Wednesday, October 03, 2007

National Poetry Day

Tomorrow, as I'm sure everyone is aware, is National Poetry Day. Over on Musings from a Muddy Island Juliet has posted some poems about geese and that leads me via a tortuous route to Siegfried Sassoon. Following some of her links to goose-related sites, I stumbled upon an Irish-American society called Wild Geese and I found an article on their website about Sassoon. That reminded me of a visit to King's Theatre in Portsmouth in 1987 to see a wonderful one-man show by Peter Barkworth, called simply Siegfried Sassoon.

I offer no apology, if you didn't know before why my blog is called Random Distractions, you certainly do now!

The show was simple but very powerful. Peter Barkworth portrayed Sassoon's experiences of war, hospital and return to civilian life through extracts from his poetry and prose. The evening ended with one of those rare dramatic experiences where the audience is moved to a tangible silence. This is the poem that affected everyone so deeply:

Everyone Sang

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;

And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on--on--and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away . . . O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

April 1919
Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

That is my contribution to National Poetry Day. If you would like to name a favourite, I'll include as many as possible in my next post.


  1. This is Just to Say (by William Carlos Willams, 1962)

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
    the icebox

    and which
    you were probably
    for breakfast

    Forgive me
    they were delicious
    so sweet
    and so cold


  2. What a lovely idea. Here's my contribution: a poem by W.B. Yeats that I first read when I was very young and which has never left me.

    The Song of Wandering Aengus

    I went out to the hazel wood,
    Because a fire was in my head,
    And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
    And hooked a berry to a thread;
    And when white moths were on the wing,
    And moth-like stars were flickering out,
    I dropped the berry in a stream
    And caught a little silver trout.

    When I had laid it on the floor
    I went to blow the fire a-flame,
    But something rustled on the floor,
    And someone called me by my name:
    It had become a glimmering girl
    With apple blossom in her hair
    Who called me by my name and ran
    And faded through the brightening air.

    Though I am old with wandering
    Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
    I will find out where she has gone,
    And kiss her lips and take her hands;
    And walk among long dappled grass,
    And pluck till time and times are done,
    The silver apples of the moon,
    The golden apples of the sun.

  3. Thank you. I haven't read any Yeats for a long time and this reminds me of what I've been missing. I should allocate a day each month to read only poetry.

  4. I simply adore The Listeners by Walter de la Mare. Something so mysterious and haunting about it. Iwill see if I can get it onto my blog

  5. Elaine,
    I've added it to today's post. It takes me back to my primary school days when my favourite poems were 'The Listeners' and Kipling's 'The way through the woods.' When I started teaching English myself, I used them to inspire mystery stories.

  6. This is uncanny. When I woke up this morning, I thought to add a few of Kipling's words to this post, but then typically forgot about it. I haven't thought of Kipling in probably decades. I'd look for something appropriate, but I'm working on my husband's PC, my laptop having died, and it's very unsatisfactory.

  7. erp,
    I look forward to your choice when you have your new laptop - I've left a comment over on your blog.

  8. Thanks.

    My husband took me to the Olive Garden for lunch I love their Eggplant Parmigiana. It's very crispy and their marinara sauce is not too spicy. I always ask for the sauce (or as my Italian descent husband calls it, gravy) on the side. Comes with just enough spaghetti for a person lacking genetic material from Sicilia to eat. I used to like their salads as well, but since I can't eat leafy green vegetables anymore, I make due with sopping up the dressing with the "breadsticks."

    The restaurant has an unobstructed view of the ocean. It's always a different and this afternoon the view of the heavy clouds in the distance was beautiful. I'm sorry I didn't have the camera with me.

    Here's one of my favorites.

  9. erp, I do believe you are a poet at heart. That description of the view from the restaurant is quite lyrical and I noticed the creative touch in your post on the rain. Perhaps we'll be publishing your work soon instead of Kipling's! (I won't tell the Duckians, we have to have one woman they take seriously.)

  10. You're very kind, but it's not hard to wax lyrical about the ocean. It's gorgeous in every mood, but the grays of the cloudy days are most expressive. Unfortunately, it's those days that I'm most like to forget the camera.

    Duckians have found a woman they take seriously? Surely you jest.

  11. Duckians have found a woman they take seriously? Surely you jest.



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