Poems that make grown men cry

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry. The title made me pick up the book. And it was revealing. It brings together poems which have made writers cry.

Auden the tear-jerker
Auden the tear-jerker

So we have Salman Rushdie confessing he is moved to tears by the last lines of WH Auden’s famous poem, In Memory of WB Yeats.

Sebastian Faulks, author of Birdsong and the James Bond sequel Devil May Care, names Coleridge’s Frost at Midnight, adding: “I read this poem at my daughter’s christening.”

The former Times and Sunday Times editor Harold Evans says he could not hold back his tears when he read Wordsworth’s Character of the Happy Warrior at his predecessor, Sir Denis Hamilton’s funeral service.

The writer Melvyn Bragg mentions Shakespeare’s Sonnet XXX. “I have never been able to read this sonnet without stumbling and then stopping. It is the final couplet that finishes me off,” he says.

Continue reading “Poems that make grown men cry”

9/11 in poems and stories

Today is September 11. The day two planes hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists flew into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center, bringing them down in flames, killing nearly 3,000 people 13 years ago. I still remember the shock and horror of seeing it happen on television. After the television broadcasters live-reporting the tragedy, the shock was expressed most memorably, I think, by Paul Auster in his novel, Brooklyn Follies.

Continue reading “9/11 in poems and stories”

Love poems by Brian Patten

I am reading Brian Patten again – after years. I first read his poems in a Penguin paperback called The Mersey Sound. It was an anthology of poems by three Liverpool poets – Patten, Adrian Henri and Roger McGough. It was one of my favourite books and I have written about it before. Now I am once again reading Collected Love Poems by Brian Patten. And the pleasure’s all mine. Here are three poems which unaccountably I failed to mention the first time I read the book. The first poem is on the theme of constancy and the next two are so lyrical!

Continue reading “Love poems by Brian Patten”

The poems of John Betjeman

John Betjeman
John Betjeman

Today is the birthday of Sir John Betjeman, a 20th century poet who actually wrote in verse. Not free verse but lines that rhymed.

Betjeman (August 28, 1906 – May 19, 1984) was popular in his time. His Collected Poems, published in 1958, has sold over two and a quarter million copies, according to Betjeman.com.

It doesn’t take a literary rocket scientist — or whatever brainy literature lovers are — to appreciate his poems. If you are occasionally wry, sardonic, wistful, nostalgic, fed up with progress and modernity, like a bit of open air and girls, you may enjoy some of his poems.

Continue reading “The poems of John Betjeman”

Wordsworth’s finest

Wordsworth
Wordsworth

Which is Wordsworth’s finest poem? How can one even ask such a question? He has written so many memorable poems, it seems impossible to single out any one as the very best. Yet the question has been on my mind these past two days since the birthday of Wordsworth (April 7, 1770 – April 23, 1850). And my answer?

I love Tintern Abbey and the Immortality Ode. They are great poems. And The Daffodils is one of the loveliest lyrics in the English language. But my favourite is one of the Lucy poems.

Continue reading “Wordsworth’s finest”

Typewriter poems

George OrwellPressrun.net has a new look today. The typeface is different. It reminds me of typewriters.

I love smartphones, tablets, laptops, but typewriters were my first love. Not smooth, electric typewriters but the manual variety. Such as the one George Orwell is working on in this photo. With a cigarette in his mouth, fingers on the keyboard, the author of the essay, Books vs Cigarettes, looks utterly engrossed.Continue reading “Typewriter poems”

Fourth of July: This Land Is Your Land, Leaves of Grass

Today is the Fourth of July: US Independence Day. So here’s one of the most beautiful songs about America: This Land Is Your Land, by Woody Guthrie. Here it is sung by Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen.

I just discovered that the Fourth of July was also the day Walt Whitman published the first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855. Recalling that, the Writer’s Almanac says:

Continue reading “Fourth of July: This Land Is Your Land, Leaves of Grass”