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 land
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.
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.
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.