V is for Verse

I love poetry. Those words always sounds like you’re trying too hard. But I do really like it. Poetry has a rhyme and meter that can carry you away in a way that story can’t. I still remember poems that I haven’t read for twenty years, I remember how they affected me. There’s one by John Clare, called I Am, that I found recently written on the inside cover of one of my diaries from when I was a teenager. It starts like this:

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death’s oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

That kind of thing is pure catnip to a moody teenage girl from Grimsby, sitting in her bedroom in her Doc Martens. It appealed to my ‘nobody understands me’ psyche in a way that Morrissey never could. It was like he had written it for me, which was a coincidence as Robert Frost, who I studied for A-level and who, for the most part, bored me rigid, had also managed to write a poem just for me. ‘The Road Not Taken’ is a poem about indecision. How on earth he’d managed to know that seventy years later I’d be in a dilemma about which college to go to, I don’t know.

For all that I like poetry, I can’t for the life of me write it, which sort of makes me hate it a bit too, and I admire anybody who can. Each time I try it turns into some kind of dirty limerick, the ‘There was a young lady called Annie’ kind of thing, which is quite entertaining at parties but is frowned upon in polite poetry circles. I have problems with whether it should rhyme or not. I also don’t like how poetry isolates people. There’s a snobbery surrounding it and a feeling that you have to ‘get’ it. Poetry appreciation is sometimes the Emperors New Clothes of writing and I feel like I’m the little boy jumping up and down shouting, ‘But I don’t get it, it doesn’t rhyme!’

But I know what I like and that’s all that matters. From Pam Ayres to Brian Patten, Benjamin Zephaniah to E.E Cummings (yes, I know it’s supposed to be lower case but the pedant in me can’t physically type it like that, I tried and came back and changed it) I’ll happily read anything, as long as it sounds good.

I think you’ll find though, that for all her Poet Laureate-ness, Carol Ann Duffy would be quaking in her boots if she knew about the sheer poetic genius that led me to rhyme ‘Nottingham’ with ‘Front Bottingham’.


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9 responses to “V is for Verse

  1. I’m so with you here. I can remember verse I learnt years ago. I can write a poetry but it either comes out as dismal, disjointed (and probably highly intellectual but not meant to be) dirges or a fair approximation of Pam Ayres. Lovely post!

  2. I pull away from poetry for those very reasons, it’s scares me a bit somehow a bit like modern art, some I get immediately and others leave me baffled. Wilfred Owen’s poems from my school days have stayed with me.
    maggie at expat brazil

  3. Blog hopping today to meet new people before the end of the challenge. Good Post. Most Colleges are comparable, don’t fret. Pick one and enjoy life.

  4. I just stopped by from the challenge to say hi. I loved reading this and I also remember verses and entire lengthy poems that I had to learn in HS and college.

  5. Hi, thanks for reading. I can remember things like that form years ago but then struggle to remember what day it is..

  6. I really love poetry too and sometimes I don’t have to get it all because I just like looking at the way the words are arranged on the page.
    PS Bet you wrote that poem in your diary when you weren’t allowed to go to the Reading Festival.

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