Desert Island Poems

This is more of an impression than an analysis but being in possession of 14 lists of favourites, kindly lent me by members, I was able to look more closely at the choices made. Two members supplied me with longlists from which they had decided on eight poems. I think this demonstrates the both the difficulty and the pleasures of this exercise and I’m sure much musing and headscratching went on. I even suspect the lists might have been different on different days. This is certainly true in my case. Someone remarked that a poem from someone else’s list might equally well have appeared on theirs had they thought of it. One list was very interestingly accompanied by the member’s reasons though pretty much everyone gave these when they came to read their list. Everyone seemed sure which poem they’d go into the waves to save. On member said her chosen poem had been ‘number one’ for 15 years.

Shakespeare featured on several lists. Two people chose Sonnet 118. Another two favoured Sonnet 116. One wanted 8 sonnets if that was allowed and another wanted them all. One person chose the 7 Ages Of Man speech from ‘As You Like It.’

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One or two people chose long works of literature on the assumption that they might be on the desert island for quite a long time.

Poets that featured more than once were UA Fanthorpe, W.B. Yeats, John Milton,

John Keats, Seamus Heaney. TS Eliot (two people chose ‘Burnt Norton’) Alfred Noyes ( two people chose ‘The Highwayman) Robert Browning, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wislawa Szymborska, Elizabeth Bishop, William Blake (two people chose ‘The Tyger’) Walter de la Mare (two people chose ‘The Listeners) and Tennyson (two people chose ‘Ulysees’)

But this might not give an overall impression of our tastes as these are many and various and we acquire new favourites all the time from poems read at our meetings. It’s a learning curve.

Ruth Smith

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