miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
St Pancras Station is one of my favourite train stations. The redevelopment was really beautifully done, blending the original features with the modern, and I like it because it's where I go if I want to visit m'friend Andy, who is one of my favourite people.

One of the themes in the station is John Betjeman; he loved trains, and so there's a statue of him, and the pub in the station is called the Betjeman Arms, and there are snippets of his poetry embedded in the floor tiles of the station. There are a LOT of Betjeman poems in the floor tiles, but one of them is unaccountably missing. So here it is:
Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.

It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.
(Slough, for those of you who don't know it, is famously the most miserable town in the UK. It's also where Mars Bars are made. And Pedigree dog food. In the same factory.)
miss_s_b: (Mood: Evil love)
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

Regular readers will know of my soft spot for Poe, both his poetry and prose. The above poem, Alone, is one of my favourites of his. Most people seem to read it as sad or scary - fancy feeling so lonely! - but I don't. It doesn't mention sadness or loneliness, just difference. I read it as a celebration of taking joy in things that others don't, looking up at that cloud in the sky and smiling at the shape of a demon when others just see a cloud... I like being different. All my little personality quirks (some of which may or may not be mental illnesses) are what make me me, instead of just a clone of some other person, and having joy and passion for the beauty of things that other people ignore is what makes life interesting. How boring would life be if we were all the same? Alone is one of the best articulations of that I can think of.

And, in my view, that's what poetry is for - tapping into raw emotion and giving it a voice. Sometimes that can be beautiful, sometimes it can be terrible (I defy anyone to read Dog's Death by John Updyke and not cry); sometimes it can be serious and political (Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen), and even when it's funny it can sometimes have a serious point (Disobedience by AA Milne); and sometimes it can just be gloriously affirmative (Warning by Jenny Joseph).

I have a deep love of quite a lot of poetry, and as such I object strenously to Govey's edict that all children should be forced to learn poetry off by heart that he has prescribed, because there is nothing surer to turn them off it. An appreciation of any particular poem is as individual as the person reading it. I used to love Dylan Thomas's almost musical whimsy till my English teacher made me dissect it. You can't force someone to like a poem, just as you can't force them to like a story, and in my view, you shouldn't try. But giving children the tools to discover and delight in poetry for themselves? That is a wonderful thing. It is here I mention with appreciation my junior school teacher Miss Nobbs, who did ask that we learn a poem to recite to the class once a week - but allowed us to choose the poem for ourselves. I remember causing a great stir one week with The Story of Augustus Who Would Not Eat His Soup, and one of my friends doing Jim by Hillaire Belloc. That kind of teaching is a wonderful, valuable thing.

I don't really understand people who say that they dislike poetry as if it is one distinct entity; it's like saying you don't like conversation, or pictures, or music, or books, or the internet. Poetry is simply a method of conveying an idea; I can understand not liking the idea, but not liking the medium seems odd to me. But then, as I said at the beginning, I'm an odd person. Perhaps one of you self-declared poetry dislikers could explain it to me?
miss_s_b: (Default)
Mornings fill me with horror -
Cold, grey, wintry ones particularly so -
And when the cold grey tide of news
Issues forth from my radio
Filled with war, murder, hate, death,
Corruption, sleaze, and depressing reality
In the sardonic tones of Humphries;
Or the sorrowful lilt of Naughtie;
Or the overeager gloat of Davies;
Or the vainglorousness of Webb...
Things
Seem
Worse.

Yet there is one voice
Whose calm authority seems to soothe
And silently impart:
Yes, things are bad,
But don't despair:
There's still radio 4,
There's still me,
And if you make it till teatime, you can have comedy.
Maybe even,
If you're lucky,
Sandi Toksvig
Or Sue Perkins.


Of course, today I didn't even have to wait till teatime, because Wordaholics was on at 11.30am, which is fast becoming a favourite of mine. I really hope it doesn't just stop at 6 episodes.

In other news, this morning I woke up in a different bed to the one I went to sleep in, with Roxy in succubus position on my chest, and with a black eye. I have no explanation for any of these things, other than the very general one of Beer festival finished yesterday, and you might have had a bit much to drink, Jennie. The black eye is particularly puzzling; [personal profile] matgb insists I didn't have it when I went to bed, and you'd think I'd notice it occurring in the night...
miss_s_b: (Fangirling: Books)
... and I thought I'd do a poetry round for my "back to school" section. And I found this:
The British, by Benjamin Zephaniah

Take some Picts, Celts and Silures
And let them settle,
Then overrun them with Roman conquerors.

Remove the Romans after approximately 400 years
Add lots of Norman French to some
Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings, then stir vigorously.

Mix some hot Chileans, cool Jamaicans, Dominicans,
Trinidadians and Bajans with some Ethiopians, Chinese,
Vietnamese and Sudanese.

Then take a blend of Somalians, Sri Lankans, Nigerians
And Pakistanis,
Combine with some Guyanese
And turn up the heat.

Sprinkle some fresh Indians, Malaysians, Bosnians,
Iraqis and Bangladeshis together with some
Afghans, Spanish, Turkish, Kurdish, Japanese
And Palestinians
Then add to the melting pot.

Leave the ingredients to simmer.

As they mix and blend allow their languages to flourish
Binding them together with English.

Allow time to be cool.

Add some unity, understanding, and respect for the future,
Serve with justice
And enjoy.

Note: All the ingredients are equally important. Treating one ingredient better than another will leave a bitter unpleasant taste.

Warning: An unequal spread of justice will damage the people and cause pain. Give justice and equality to all.
... which cheered me up enormously after several of my favourites had made me cry.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Dads are awesome)
Today, she had her first poetry reading, in public, and lots of people heard her reading her competition-winning poem, which is this:
A Daffodil by Holly Rylett

Down down down
Under the ground
The roots are carefully growing
Up up up
Over the ground
A daffodil is starting to shoot
High high high
Above the sky
The daffodil really shoots
Low low low
Under the sky
The daffodil is dead
(because it's winter!)
How well has my little one captured the cyclical nature of life and death and the wonder of nature in those few words?

* so proud *



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National Poetry Day

Thursday, October 8th, 2009 11:08 pm
miss_s_b: (geekiness)
From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were---I have not seen
As others saw---I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I lov'd, I loved alone.
Then---in my childhood---in the dawn
Of a most stormy life---was drawn
From ev'ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that 'round me roll'd
In its autumn tint of gold---
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass'd me flying by---
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

Alone by Edgar Allan Poe. Happy National Poetry Day, everyone.



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About This Blog

Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.






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