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RTW - Favourite Poem

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic: April is National Poetry Month! Share your favorite poem(s) or poet.

I know I said I wouldn't do these anymore but I just had to for this week. Over the weekend, the papers published the order of service for Baroness Thatcher's funeral today and included the Wordsworth poem in full (Ode: On Intimations of Immortality). It got me thinking about poems that had stuck with me and then this RTW came up so, here it goes:

Night Mail by W H Auden

This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
 Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
 Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
 The shop at the corner and the girl next door.
 Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
 The gradient's against her, but she's on time.
 Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
 Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
 Snorting noisily as she passes
 Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.

 Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
 Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches.
 Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
 They slumber on with paws across.
 In the farm she passes no one wakes,
 But a jug in the bedroom gently shakes.

 Dawn freshens, the climb is done.
 Down towards Glasgow she descends
 Towards the steam tugs yelping down the glade of cranes,
 Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces
 Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen.
 All Scotland waits for her:
 In the dark glens, beside the pale-green sea lochs
 Men long for news.

 Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
 Letters of joy from the girl and the boy,
 Receipted bills and invitations
 To inspect new stock or visit relations,
 And applications for situations
 And timid lovers' declarations
 And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
 News circumstantial, news financial,
 Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
 Letters with faces scrawled in the margin,
 Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
 Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
 Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
 Notes from overseas to Hebrides
 Written on paper of every hue,
 The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
 The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring,
 The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
 Clever, stupid, short and long,
 The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

 Thousands are still asleep
 Dreaming of terrifying monsters,
 Or of friendly tea beside the band at Cranston's or Crawford's:
 Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
 Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
 They continue their dreams,
 And shall wake soon and long for letters,
 And none will hear the postman's knock
 Without a quickening of the heart,
 For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?


I don't really read poetry anymore so when I think of my favourite poems, I often go back to those I learnt as a child. I remember learning Night Mail with my tutor when I was about nine or ten (it was just before the 11+ if I was with my tutor) and we made the sounds of the train and such like to catch the rhythm. Other poems I remember:

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll - I think I encountered this poem in almost every year of my schooling. Quite rightly. 

Break, Break, Break by Alfred Lord Tennyson - It's terrible considering the meaning behind the poem but...I can't help but laugh every time I read / hear this poem because I will always remember my teacher's overly dramatic reading that had us in stitches at the back of the class. 

On the Ning Nang Nong by Spike Milligan - I think I learnt this before Night Mail. We knew it by heart and it never failed to make us laugh.

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