This is the response of some of my friends to the idea of poetry. I can't imagine life without poetry; so many of life's 'little situations' bring a poetry quote to mind. I think this probably dates back to my childhood days when my father had a quote for almost any situation. He was a great poetry reader and at the slightest excuse would read whole poems aloud. And, as a poetry lover, I am not altogether sure what is not to get.
We all know that if we write poetry ourselves it has to live up to the maxim that 'less is more', otherwise a) it doesn't work and b) what is the point of it? One might as well write prose.
Robert Frost, who wrote so many wise words, talks of poetry as 'the rhythm of dramatic speech on a grid of meter'- and this calls to my mind its affinity with music in the way in which it can move the emotions.
Santa has brought me a lovely little book called, "A Poet's Guide to Britain" in which the compiler, Owen Sheers, has brought together poems about various aspects of the countryside, poems which paint pictures of cities, villages, islands, mountains, forests etc. These poems all have one thing in common - they paint a word picture of a place. Even if that place disappears then the picture remains in perpetuity and we can conjure up our own image.
One of the poets featured in the book is U A Fanthorpe. Do you know her poetry? If not I do urge you to go on the internet and read some of it. I had never heard of her until I was introduced to her work by W at our Poetry Group (thanks W!).
Ursula Askham Fanthorpe did her English degree at Oxford and then taught for a time at Cheltenham Ladies' College before doing secretarial work and finally going freelance. In 1994 she was appointed Professor of Poetry at Oxford and so had come full circle, so to speak. Her partner of 44 years, Rosie Bailey and Ursula wrote some poetry together. She died aged 79 in a hospice in Gloucestershire and has left behind her a wonderfull legacy of poetry and some wise words.
Because that is the other thing that poetry does. Because it has to be brief, concise and to the point, a good poet can convey a wealth of meaning in two or three words (the emperor's new clothes springs to mind, or damned with faint praise)
In this lovely little book from Santa there is a poem by Fanthorpe in the Section on Coast and Sea. The poem is called 'Sunderland Point and Ribchester' and tells the story of two graves - one in each of the places - both old graves, and both - she suggests - places for children to visit. Well-worth reading and containing a few lines which really made me think and which say so much in so few words. I leave you today with this little bit of the poem:-
Children are the most authentic
Pilgrims, having farthest to go, and knowing
Least the way.