Inheritance Poems…


On this, National Poetry Day, I thought I’d share the poems that have mattered to my parents – and the poem I would like to pass down to my children.

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley
I met a traveller from an antique landOzymandias
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear —
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’

This was my father’s favourite poem – and I also love it. The clash of what Ozymandias intended, against what actually happened to his works… Yep. Absolutely hits the spot.

Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!sunsetseas
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

This is my mother’s favourite poem and another one that gives me the tingle factor. The comfort and belief that underpins it comes from a different age, but for all that, it is a poem I grew up also loving.

And now for my contribution – the poem I’d like to pass down to the next generation. Hm. Which of all the poems I know do I choose? I was strongly tempted with ‘Anne Hathaway’ by Carol Ann Duffy – such a tender, loving poem, or Vernon Scannell’s ‘Grannie’, which is especially close to my heart, these days. I also seriously contemplated ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling, as the advice is so apt and beautifully put – there’s a solid reason why it’s the nation’s favourite poem. Or Jan Dean’s lovely poem ‘Angels’ that always leaves me with a lump in my throat. But, in the end I opted for this wonderful outpouring from Gerald Manley Hopkins – a plea for this untended corner to be left in peace, which surely must ring even truer today than it did when this poem was written back in 1881.

Inversnaid by Gerald Manley Hopkins
This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foamarklet-falls-beside-the
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-froth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fell-frowning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew,
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

11 responses »

  1. Wow. The Hopkins piece took my breath away. I agree with you about the last stanza, too; that sentiment could be applied to most natural landmarks today. It’s good to see that some people and organizations are working hard to save or keep such places alive and healthy, but they could still disappear if we’re too careless.

    Have you read any poetry by Mary Oliver or Ursula K. Le Guin? They both have penned a number of nature-centric poems, and many of those pieces are beautifully written and thought-provoking.

    • I’m aware of Mary Oliver’s work and you’re right – it’s beautiful, but I haven’t read any of Ursula K. LeGuin’s poetry. Thank you for suggesting it – I’ll definitely track it down:).

      • UKLG’s poetry is just as beautiful as her fiction. I only have her most recent collection, “Finding My Elegy,” which is a compilation of previously published and never-before published work. But I loved it, and will definitely pick up more of her poetry as I come across it. 🙂

  2. Hi Jean,
    Thank you so much for swinging by and taking the trouble to comment. It really is a cracker, isn’t it? I was lucky to be brought up around people who enjoyed poetry and felt natural about sharing their tastes – it didn’t hurt that my mother and grandmother both read poetry beautifully and Dad could recite this one off by heart.

  3. Pingback: The Infinity Dreams Award | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

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