My book group always has discussion points separate to the discussion of the book in question (favourite hero in literature; books which evoke place; most overrated books – those sort of things) and yesterday we had the simple topic ‘favourite poetry’.
And I always hit a bit of an obstacle.
There are some poems I love – a while ago I compiled a favourite eight for my friend Barbara, which I’ll share sometime if I can remember – but, aside from a small selection, poetry usually leaves me cold. Perhaps because I read quite fast, and have to really slow myself down for poetry? Perhaps because I nearly went mad trying to read The Faerie Queene? I don’t know. But I’d be happy to hear about your favourite poetry, and maybe put me back on the straight and narrow.
But I will also take a leaf out of Becca’s book, and give a poem of the day – this battles out with some AA Milne, Psalm 51 and a sonnet or two of Shakespeare’s, for my favourite poem. So atmospheric, so chilling.
(the image from this link, was a flickr image intended for the poem)
THE LISTENERS by: Walter de la Mare ‘IS there anybody there?’ said the Traveller, Knocking on the moonlit door; And his horse in the silence champ’d the grasses Of the forest’s ferny floor: And a bird flew up out of the turret, Above the Traveller’s head: And he smote upon the door again a second time; ‘Is there anybody there?’ he said. But no one descended to the Traveller; No head from the leaf-fringed sill Lean’d over and look’d into his grey eyes, Where he stood perplex’d and still. But only a host of phantom listeners That dwelt in the lone house then Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight To that voice from the world of men: Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair, That goes down to the empty hall, Hearkening in an air stirr’d and shaken By the lonely Traveller’s call. And he felt in his heart their strangeness, Their stillness answering his cry, While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf, ‘Neath the starr’d and leafy sky; For he suddenly smote on the door, even Louder, and lifted his head:– ‘Tell them I came, and no one answer’d, That I kept my word,’ he said. Never the least stir made the listeners, Though every word he spake Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house From the one man left awake: Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup, And the sound of iron on stone, And how the silence surged softly backward, When the plunging hoofs were gone.