Poems for Valentine’s Day

Here are some wonderful love poems for Valentine's Day. It is an eclectic collection, ranging from Ben Jonson to John Donne, Andrew Marvell and Robert Burns and going on to WH Auden, John Betjeman, Margaret Atwood, Carol Ann Duffy, Wendy Cope, James Fenton, Adrian Henri, Brian Patten, Leah Furnas and Debra Spencer.

What's the connection?

Well, I love these poems.

Click on the plain-vanilla hyperlinked scroller to go from first love through the various phases to marriage and old age. You can also view it as a slideshow. Click on the view mode to change from "scroll" to "slide".

Poems for Valentine’s Day http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=26824124&access_key=key-sblpmodxfz7tsa5rsmb&page=1&viewMode=list

Two poems about Singapore

One poem leads to another. Reading Reflecting on the Merlion: An Anthology of Poems edited by Edwin Thumboo and Yeow Kai Chai, and co-edited by Enoch Ng, Isa Kamari, and Seetha Lakshmi at the public library, I wanted to read more poems about Singapore.

And, as luck would have it, I came across another anthology, this one co-edited by Alvin Pang, whose poem, Merlign, I particularly liked among all the poems about the Merlion. This anthology is called Over There: Poems from Singapore and Australia, edited by Alvin Pang and John Kinsella. I immediately liked two of the poems: Bumboat Cruise on the Singapore River by Miriam Wei Wei Lo and They Say by Kirpal Singh.

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I couldn’t borrow either of the books, so I photocopied these poems. And since I couldn’t find these poems on the internet, here they are, so I can read them again.

Why are poems so hard to find on the Net? There should be a few by every poet so we may want to read more of their works.

Here’s more about Kirpal Singh and Miriam Wei Wei Lo (here and here).

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A book of poems about the Merlion

Merlion_small At the pubic library, I came across a book of poems entirely about the Merlion, the lion-headed, fish-tailed icon of Singapore. The book is called Reflecting on the Merlion: An Anthology of Poems. It's edited by Edwin Thumboo and Yeow Kai Chai, and co-edited by Enoch Ng, Isa Kamari, and Seetha Lakshmi. It was published by Singapore's National Arts Council this year.

The poem I liked best was Merlign, by Alvin Pang. I have no idea why it's called Merlign nor did I understand all the references. But I loved the first two verses and the last five or six. The whole poem can be read here. I will just take the liberty to quote the opening and the ending.

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The Twelve Days Of Christmas by Carol Ann Duffy

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Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has written a new Twelve Days Of Christmas for Radio Times. It's all about current affairs, touching on Afghanistan, the drought in sub-Saharan Africa, the financial crisis, the election of Barack Obama, the British MPs' expenses scandal, and the Copenhagen climate summit. This is how the poem goes:

1
ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS,
a buzzard on a branch.
In Afghanistan,
no partridge, pear tree;
but my true love sent to me
a card from home.
I sat alone,
crouched in yellow dust,
and traced the grins of my kids
with my thumb.
Somewhere down the line,
for another father, husband,
brother, son, a bullet
with his name on.

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TS Eliot Britain’s favourite poet

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TS Eliot is Britain's favourite poet, according to a BBC online poll. More good news: John Donne came in second and Yeats and Dylan Thomas also ended up in the top 10. I am surprised Auden didn't make the list. How couldn't he?

More than 18,000 votes were cast and the top 10 favourite poets are:

  1. TS Eliot
  2. John Donne
  3. Benjamin Zephaniah
  4. Wilfred Owen
  5. Philip Larkin
  6. William Blake
  7. WB Yeats
  8. John Betjeman
  9. John Keats
  10. Dylan Thomas

Other contenders included Simon Armitage, WH Auden, Robert Browning, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Wendy Cope, Carol Ann Duffy, Thomas Hardy, Seamus Heaney, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Ted Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Roger McGough, John Milton, Sylvia Plath, Christina Rossetti, Stevie Smith, Lord Tennyson, and William Wordsworth.I have never read Zephaniah.

Here one can hear TS Eliot reading from The Waste Land and Four Quartets. The Poetry Archive site also has readings by Dylan Thomas, Yeats, Larkin and Betjeman.

It's revealing that Keats was the only Romantic to make the list and none of the Victorians did. The fact that Blake is also on the list suggests people today still like the kind of poetry that was popular in the 1960s and '70s.

Personally, I would have included Auden, Wordsworth and Kipling in place of Zephaniah, Owen and Blake.

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World War II , Vera Lynn and Auden

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This was the day Poland was invaded by Germany and Russia 70 years ago, marking the start of the Second World War. Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later, on September 3.

Those wartime memories have now made Vera Lynn the oldest artiste to hit the charts. At the age of 92, she is back on the British album charts with a collection of her wartime songs, We'll Meet Again, entering at No 20. We'll Meet Again is a lovely song.

But just as sweet is the German wartime song, Lili Marlene. Here Vera Lynn sings it in English.

The poet WH Auden marked the day with this poem.

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