Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sometimes only poetry will do

Today I have been really struggling to settle down with a book without my mind taking random travels. I think I spent a solid five minutes thinking about biscuits which led me to various other weird and wonderful tangents until I actually got up and got myself a biscuit (dark chocolate hobnob, if you're wondering). Instead of trying to read and realising five pages later that I have no idea what happened in those five pages, I thought I'd look through some poetry. What could be better for those days when my attention span for biscuits is longer than for books?

I have a love/hate relationship with poetry. Sometimes I just want to shake the poet and shout 'what are you even saying?!' Obviously, that isn't possible so I tend to just put the books aside and not look at it again for several months (yes, I hold poetry grudges. Imagine what I'm like with people...). But today, I realised how uplifting it can be to read a good poem and how beautiful the right arrangement of words can be.

My favourite poets are William Blake (I can recite lots of his, because I'm cool like that), Carol Ann Duffy, Rainer Maria Rilke, Matthew Arnold and Emily Dickinson. I also have particularly soft spots for Rupert Brooke (and the rest of the war poets), Louis Macneice and Wendy Cope. Oddly, my favourite poem and my favourite lines of poetry are not written by any of my favourite poets (why not mix it up).

Invictus by William Ernest Henley is one of the most perfect examples of poetry, in my opinion. It may not be the best out there but it is one of the few poems that I can actually relate to. Invictus means invincible and it gives me such a feeling of strength and a go-get-em attitude whenever I read it. It reminds me that I can do anything I want to. Fun fact: my little sister has the word 'invictus' tattooed on her foot, because she truly is invincible.

I'll leave you with my favourite lines. I'm not a massive fan of T.S Eliot but this extract is from part five of Little Gidding, one of the Four Quartets:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

I think I may set myself the challenge this year to read more poetry, particularly more contemporary poetry. How do you guys feel about poetry? Any favourites?


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