I was reminded of two of my favourite poems today and it got me thinking how great literature (obviously depending on opinion) comes into our everyday life all the time. I’ve told you how I write some of my own poetry and my whole ‘system’ of writing is to simply think of something I have done that day, something that had cropped up or something I like or feel strongly about. I will, in future posts, share some more of my own poetry with you but for today I am going to stick with two poems; one by Carol Ann Duffy and one by Vernon Scannell.
I went for a walk today.. .over 4 miles.. again with my boyfriend’s mum and his brother’s girlfriend. I know, I know, I’ve still not taken my own advice of avoiding exercise. Turns out I’m one of those people who says, ‘Do what I say, not what I do!’ But again I paid for it… nasty nettles this time (another piece of evidence that exercise is just oh so dangerous!). It was muddy in the wooded area that we walked due to all the lovely summer rain we have had. I slipped down this slushy, muddy slope and what did I grab onto? Nettles! Ouchie. One of the dogs didn’t learn from my painful mistake and sniffed a bed of nettles later… oh did he whimper!
Anyway, I’m getting off track…. as we did frequently on our walk! You may have guessed the poem I want to mention if you are a) a fan of poetry b) a year nine pupil (as we have studied this with them lots at school) c) or if you are a great friend of mine and actually listens when I ramble on and on about poetry and school life. Nettles by Vernon Scannell is a great poem and portrays the beautiful relationship between father and son. The extreme length the father will go to to stop his son being hurt by the physical pain of the nettles. It is also hinted at that there is a point that parents can’t stop their children from being hurt; physically or emotionally. Oh dear, I’m starting to feel like I’m back at school… ‘Let me read the poem!’ I hear you cry.. well here we go:
My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.
‘Bed’ seemed a curious name for those green spears,
That regiment of spite behind the shed:
It was no place for rest. With sobs and tears
The boy came seeking comfort and I saw
White blisters beaded on his tender skin.
We soothed him till his pain was not so raw.
At last he offered us a watery grin,
And then I took my billhook, honed the blade
And went outside and slashed in fury with it
Till not a nettle in that fierce parade
Stood upright any more. And then I lit
A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead,
But in two weeks the busy sun and rain
Had called up tall recruits behind the shed:
My son would often feel sharp wounds again.
I won’t go into analytical mode don’t worry but you can appreciate it any way you wish. I just love how something that happens to us on a daily basis can remind us of a poem or a story or a book or even something we read in the newspaper last week. My hand still hurts from the nettles… and I know I will feel sharp wounds again…
Talking of stinging, I was reminded of my favourite poem just as I was preparing dinner. It also ties in nicely with Nettles. My eyes, like my hands, began to sting. I was chopping an onion for our chicken fajitas! Stinging eyes and finely chopping the small, brown onion, I thought of Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy. I first studied this poem at GCSE and I think I used it for assignments at University and occasionally I just like to read it. I still always think of it every time I chop an onion and also every time I think of Valentine’s Day and how love shouldn’t be about presents, alcohol and commercial things. If you don’t already know this poem then I bet you’re thinking ‘Onions and love, whattt?’ Take a read:
Not a red rose or a satin heart
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
Again, I won’t get my analytical head on but I will say that I love how Duffy experiments with form. Her stanzas stop and start with irregular lines and enjambment used frequently… just like love is so unpredictable and not regular. So ladies, if your man comes home tonight and gives you an onion… don’t be offended and think it is his hint for you to cook dinner… think of it as a moon and a much more meaningful present than anything else. Have I convinced you?? Haha, didn’t think so… flowers are just so much prettier aren’t they?
But next time your eyes sting from chopping an onion or your skin stings with pain from nettles then think of these two poems. It is all about taking that everyday, ordinary object/thing/feeling/situation and making it extraodinary…..which is kind of what my blog is all about!
Tonight, avoid nettles along with that evil exercise and consider that onion as you chomp through your chicken fajitas… I know I will 😉
See you tomorrow,