Thursday 4 February 2021

A Little Poetry

 This lockdown has been grimmer, in some ways, than previous ones.  Maybe it's the winter; maybe it was that we were just getting hopeful again...  Whatever the reason, it seemed to hit harder. So my younger children decided that it would be a good idea to learn a poem a week, and to swap poems every Saturday morning via Whatsapp.  And they recruited me, too.

So for the past several weeks, I have been learning a poem off by heart every week, and enjoying Mike's and Lizzie's recitations of their poems. And we have covered a lot of ground already: Shakespeare, Hardy, Eliot, Elizabeth Jennings, Stevie Smith, and even Geoffrey Bache-Smith, whom I hadn't come across before.

There are some obvious benefits, of course: exercising the old cerebellum as Bertie would say, and refreshing the soul. And also, for me at least, addressing that feeling that I really ought to know more poetry (by the end of the year, I should know a lot more than I do now!) 

But one that I hadn't foreseen was how pleasant it is to have access to all this different verse in my head for those moments - out walking, or waking in the night for example - when one might otherwise drift into unhelpful rumination or worry. I'm not especially prone to these, but as I say, this lockdown has been grimmer...

I'm particularly keen to remember all the poems I learn this year, so I try to say them through to myself most days at some stage: often when returning from a walk on the fells.  By the end of the year, of course, I'll have to go for much longer walks, if I am to sustain that habit.  And that, too, would be no bad thing...

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