Monday, 15 May 2017

Poetry Please

I remember reading a James Delingpole piece recently (though I can't find it again now) where he actually, in passing, praised a Radio 4 programme. (Yes, really!) 

That sole, shining star was Poetry Please

I also remember James writing a Spectator piece recently on the rewards of trying to learn poetry by heart, so I imagine he'll have liked the latest edition of Poetry Please as it focused on that very subject.

Learning poetry by heart is something I've tried to do too, but I find it hard - except for very short poems. (I still remember that Stevie Smith poem I learned for my O Levels. In its entirety it ran: "Aloft/In the loft/Sits Croft./He is soft".)

But it is obviously possible to manage long poems with a bit of willpower. After all, actors learn large numbers of lines and, as we know from their political pronouncements, many of them aren't exactly the brightest bulbs in the theatre's neon light display.

Now I, for example, made a determined effort to memorise the entirely of T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (always a favourite of mine) and nearly succeeded, after days and days and day of trying. Most of it has now crumbled to ruins in my memory though, yet I still remember enjoying the stimulation of the challenge. 

This is one of the few poems I have managed to learn by heart:

I was struck though by Poetry Please presenter - and poet - Roger McGough's ready admission that he was unable to recite any of his own poems from heart. 

('Roger McGough' is a splendidly poetic name, incidentally, brimming with assonance). 

1 comment:

  1. The forced learning poetry is child abuse!

    I'm afraid I just don't see the point of poetry, if you have something to say just say it.

    Shakespeare is child abuse too. Half his words are obsolete and no-one knows what they mean and the other half have changed their meanings. But never mind, the Emperor has clothes and we mustn't say otherwise!