I don't really like 'heavy' stuff, in fact poetry generally bores me.
However I do like Warning by Jenny Joseph. I teach an Introduction to Computers course at my local library and I always use this poem to demonstrate copying and pasting text from the internet. It always goes down well with my (mostly) silver surfers.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
One of the great tragedies of TFF being burnt to the ground is that I can no longer search for Dullard Et Decorum Est whenever the mood takes me. Hopefully its author has it written down somewhere.
But I digress.
Sonnet XXII by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curvéd point, – what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think! In mounting higher,
The angels would press on us and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay
Rather on earth, Belovèd, – where the unfit
Contrarious moods of men recoil away
And isolate pure spirits, and permit
A place to stand and love in for a day,
With darkness and the death-hour rounding it.
I do love a spot of poetry. Normally I don't like change but I do love Rudy Francisco and his modern "slam, jam, brrrrrup" style of poetry or whatever the kids are calling it these days. But then I'm a sucker for love. Ah....Goethe.....anyway, I digress. Here's one:
Since Burns night is coming up this week, here is one or two poems (or lines from poems) that I always find inspirational. First up is Scots' Wha Hae, which admittedly is pro-Scottish and has slight anti-English sentiment in it; but you can look past that and see a general call for people to rise up in dark times.
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or tae victory!
Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lour;
See approach proud Edward's power—
Chains and slavery!
Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave!
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa',
Let him follow me!
By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!
Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!—
Let us do or dee!
The final paragraph of A Man's A Man Fir A' That, which calls for us all to join and prosper together, instead of this constant need for war - valid, even more so for today than when it was written well over 200 years ago.
Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.
I used to do a lot of Burns reciting when I was young and got awards for it, but have only just come back to his stuff once more these last couple of years. Getting a love of folk music too latterly.
From a witness of Hiroshima who later died of cancer following the dropping of the bomb.
Pushing up through smoke,
From a world half darkened by overhanging cloud.
The shroud that mushroomed out
And struck the dome of the sky,
Black, red, blue,
Dance in the air,
Merge, scatter glittering sparks already tower
Over the whole city.
Quivering like seaweed
The mass of flames spurts forward.
Popping up in the dense smoke,
Crawling out wreathed in fire,
Countless human beings on all fours
In a heap of embers that erupt and subside,
Hair rent, rigid in death,
There smoulders a curse.
After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, and the vampire, he had some awful substance left with which he made a scab.
A scab is a two-legged animal with a corkscrew soul, a water brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles.
When a scab comes down the street, men turn their backs and angels weep in heaven, and the devil shuts the gates of hell to keep him out.
No man (or woman) has a right to scab so long as there is a pool of water to drown his carcass in, or a rope long enough to hang his body with. Judas was a gentleman compared with a scab. For betraying his master, he had character enough to hang himself. A scab has not.
Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. Judas sold his Savior for thirty pieces of silver. Benedict Arnold sold his country for a promise of a commission in the British army. The scab sells his birthright, country, his wife, his children and his fellowmen for an unfulfilled promise from his employer.
Esau was a traitor to himself; Judas was a traitor to his God; Benedict Arnold was a traitor to his country; a scab is a traitor to his God, his country, his family and his class.
I'm no expert, but I did like Simon Armitage's book "Kid", which I bought on a whim in a charity shop.
The book in the loft now, so my memory is a bit hazy, but I liked the one about football pickpockets, the one about the catch at the cricket match, and a grim tale about a house guest who outstayed his welcome and ended up being murdered by the narrator.
Edit to add - "Brassneck", "The Catch" and "Gooseberry Season", thanks to Amazon's Look Inside feature.