This would normally be a time when travel and arrangements for travel were uppermost in our minds. In the present circumstances it is something to be longed for but deferred till we don’t know when.
But we travelled anyway through the writings of poets. California, Greenland and Australia were the inspiration for poems by Walt Whitman, Lucy Diamond and Claire Pollard respectively.
Thomas Hardy was represented in his poems ‘Beany Cliff’ and ‘Midnight on the Great Western’.
Some of us recollected our schooldays when an extract from Browning’s ‘How They Brought The Good News from Ghent to Aix’ was read and we all rejoiced in Auden’s ’The Night Mail’ and reminisced about the film produced by the Post Office which features the poem.
A pretty even distribution between the two poets. Lawrence’s nature poems were popular choices and some classic poems by Yeats were read such as ‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ which sends shivers down the spine – and of course ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree.’
This sounded at first somewhat daunting but the search was rewarding and poems such as Robert Frost’s ‘The Sound of Trees’ soon surfaced.
There were no cries of ‘Oh, I was going to read that,’ as poem after poem was read, completely on topic. This chimed in well with the times we are experiencing when it seems that the birds sing louder, having less traffic noise to contend with and nature comes to our door.
The Sound of Trees
I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.
For the foreseeable future our meetings will be held using the Zoom app. as it seems to cope better than Skype with the number of attendees. We have now become thoroughly used to seeing ourselves and others in home surroundings and the meetings are productive.
Today we looked into our Homer, our Virgil, our Milton, our Dante, our Chaucer and found wonders and on the back of the Session Sheet, a marvellous sestina ‘Lullaby of the Knight Templar’ by Anne Stewart, unpublished as yet but on its way.
This meeting, the first of a new term, was also on Skype with 17 attendees. As always at the beginning of a term the topic was ‘Open Choice’ One advantage of a virtual meeting is that on occasions when it might be physically difficult to attend it is still possible to have a presence. It was good to have Maggie Hoyle with us from Dorset. We even have a little time to chat before and are very end of the meeting so nothing has changed in that respect.
We are grateful to Anne Stewart for enabling our get-together and sending us the link. Poems were read on behalf of two members (Lesley McLetchie and Ann Barlow) who were unable to appear on Skype.
Topic: Mothers and Children.
In spite of the coronavirus pandemic we still met but on Skype, from our own homes, where we read the poems we had chosen. This is probably the way we will meet for a long time, (who knows how long?) but it is a blessing that modern technology makes it possible.
It was not hard to find poems on the subject of mothers and children. Maybe we should bring in fathers at some point, not just to redress the balance but because there are many poems that focus on the child/father relationship.
Before reading an extract from ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran, Foster Murphy commented ‘There is a great poem On Children … I recommend I for its insights into parent-child relationships.’
One of the poems read was from Anne Stewart’s collection ‘The Last Parent.’
Bell House Dulwich March 3rd.
An evening of Poetry and Music
This event was attended by several of our members and proved to be very enjoyable. Music was provided by the excellent band who set poems to music and have worked with both Roger McGough and Carol Ann Duffy.
There were readings from four excellent poets which included our own Anne Stewart reading from her most recent collection ‘The Last Parent.’ The other three poets were:
Chris Beckett. Lynne Hjelmaard and Jane Kirwan who we have invited to read at our Summer Celebration.
Six poets also read from the floor including Gillie Robic who is well known to some of us.
This was our AGM with the departure of Ruth Smith as President and the inauguration of Anne Stewart as her successor to serve a second term.
After the meeting there was time only for one short poem each and some discussion of the draft programme for next year.
Poems by Nobel Prize Winning Poets
A selection from the list provided ahead of the meeting by Anne Stewart:-
1922 William Butler Yeats
1945 Gabriela Mistral
1956 Juan Ramon Jiminez
1958 Boris Pasternak
1963 Giorgos Seferis
1971 Pablo Neruda
1980 Czeslaw Milosz
1987 Joseph Brodsky
1990 Octavio Paz
1992 Derek Walcott
1995 Seamus Heaney
1996 Wislawa Szymborska
2011 Tomas Transtromer
This widened our scope and gave us the choicecof reading poems written in English or in translation. A varied selection.
Over The Moon.
A poet who was thinking of sending some poems for possible publication wondered if they would be accepted on account of their subject matter. It seemed as though poems about the moon had been such a staple of poetry for such a long time that surely there was nothing new to say. The poems were accepted.
And yes, there were a lot of poems to choose from for our meeting. The only fear was that there might be duplication as some of them are so well known but this turned out not to be the case. Of course there was ‘Silver’ by Walter de La Mare which begins ‘Slowly, silently now the moon’ there was some Shakespeare but there was also ‘The Cat and the Moon’ by W.B. Yeats and Ted Hughes’ ‘Full Moon and little Frieda.’