Friday, 30 July 2010

Poetry

Yesterday afternoon was our Poetry afternoon. In case you haven't read of this before, a group of us meet once a month (University of the Third age) and read our favourite poems, giving a short account of the poet and why we like the poem - followed by a bit of discussion. We meet in each other's houses and finish off with a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits and cakes. It is all very civilised and thoroughly enjoyable - and such a variety of poems (from the sublime to the ridiculous really).
Yesterday we had bits from the Authorised Version of The Bible, Betjamen, Keats, U A Fanthorpe, Bridges, Shakespeare etc. All lovely to listen to. Interestingly I read Keats's Ode to Autumn, which I have not read for a number of years. I had completely forgotten how beautiful it was and how full of imagery.
But what I wanted to draw your attention to today was the other poet I chose to read. Isn't is odd how poets go in and out of fashion? One poet who has gone out of fashion completely seems to be Charles Causley.
Causley was born in 1917 in Cornwall. He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and then he became a teacher. John Clare was his muse (if you can have a male muse - discuss) and his recurring theme was innocence.
At the meeting yesterday one of the ladies knew someone who had been taught by Charles Causley and he had said what a profound influence Causley had had on him. And yet we rarely hear of him these days.
So I leave you today with what I think is one of Causley's best poems. Sorry if you find it a bit dated. I am not sure what makes a poem dated - but I do know that Keats's Ode to Autumn is as fresh as the day it was written.
I urge you to seek out his poetry if you don't know it. His collected poems 1951 - 2000 is, I think, out of print but probably available from second hand book shops.
However, you can read the poem Timothy Winters here, at the Poetry Archive (where you can hear him read it, too). In case you wonder when you read it, 'helves' is a Cornish word for a desperate pleading.

As a matter of interest - in my first teaching post in the nineteen sixties, I had a boy in my class who's mother sewed him into his shirt each Monday morning and it had to last until the end of the week (and he was often incontinent).

Yes, dear readers, there are still children like this in school.

13 comments:

Heather said...

Oh Pat - this poem stirs so many emotions and feelings. Poor little chap. The reader is left with such a strong feeling that there really was such a boy. Another gem of writing.

Mac n' Janet said...

Loved the poem, and had children like that in my class in the 2000's, sad.

Jenn Jilks said...

You do inspire. Now that we've sold our cottage and bought a house, I hope things calm down for us! cheerio

Totalfeckineejit said...

I think I've heard this poem before, but probably haven't.Good songs like good poems do that to you.

Why was the unfortunate boy sewn into his shirt?

Crafty Green Poet said...

Now that's an excellent poem. I must say when I've read Causley before i haven't been impressed, perhaps I should try again

Phillips said...

He was lucky it was only a week.

Titus said...

Interesting Weaver, I didn't realise Causley was "out". We learnt Timothy Winters off by heart at school and he was still on the Eng Lit university curriculum while I was there.
But then, that was a while ago now...

Gerry Snape said...

I too weaver taught in the 60s and in various places...Belfast, Folkestone and Rochdale. In all of these places there were children of a similar type . I should thinl that there still are. Thankyou for this gentle poem.

Lori at Jarvis House said...

Some kids are just born to survive. Others just can't make it. Be glad if you are blessed with two good and loving parents. Cheers

Dominic Rivron said...

John Betjeman for the common man? I think I've read him before. Now I want to read more.

ChrisJ said...

In our village, on the East Coast of Yorkshire it was often the practice to sow the children into their clothes for the winter, so they would not catch cold. (no central heating, indoor toilets etc.)

ChrisJ said...

P.S. I'd much rather read a poem and discuss it than a book, as some do. I have quite a few old poetry books and I love reading them ate at night when all is quiet. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just absorb some of their skill by sitting and reading.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Why indeed would any mother sew her son into a shirt? Takes far longer than sewing new buttons on.
Also note ChrisJ's comment that on the East Coast chldren were sewn into their clothes for the winter -
glad you all liked the poem. Dominic has kindly done a link for me. Thanks Dom.