Thursday, 2 October 2014
National Poetry Day 2014: Remember
Today, 2 October, is National Poetry Day.
I'm sure it's partly because it's a weekday (I think it's always a weekday), but it seems as though I never end up doing a whole lot on National Poetry Day. I'm still not sure if I will be attending any events tonight. However, I am wearing this top. (In case you wonder about the English, my friend who lives in Japan gave it to me. They have a deep love there for funny English on t-shirts.)
I may or may not be going to events later, but I'm delighted that I have a poem up today on the wonderful Ink Sweat & Tears, who are publishing poems for a few days on the 'Remember' theme. The poem is called 'Against Remembering' and you can read it here.
I find the 'Remember' theme quite difficult to get my head around, simply because virtually all poetry (possibly even more than other art forms) seems to deal with memory in one way or another. Presumably the theme was chosen to coincide with the 1914 centenary, but war poetry is far from being the only focus (though it is one focus): remembrance and memory are being interpreted in a wide variety of ways, including research on the nation's most-memorised poems (you can look at the #thinkofapoem hashtag on Twitter, or the work of The Poetry and Memory Project.)
Because of the breadth of the theme, I wasn't sure which other poems might be most suitable to highlight. When I thought of favourite poems, almost every single beloved poem I have ever had came to mind (and I have had many beloved poems), or else none came to mind.
Eventually, though, I thought I would post the below poems, which all deal with aspects of and approaches to memory. I thought almost right away of Edward Thomas, but again, it seems as though every one of his poems is a memory poem: sometimes about anticipating memory. This is just one of them.
Enjoy, and I hope you're having a great National Poetry Day.
EARLIEST MEMORY (Sharon Olds)
REMEMBERING CARRIGSKEEWAUN (Michael Longley)
THE LONG SMALL ROOM (Edward Thomas)
The long small room that showed willows in the west
Narrowed up to the end the fireplace filled,
Although not wide. I liked it. No one guessed
What need or accident made them so build.
Only the moon, the mouse and the sparrow peeped
In from the ivy round the casement thick.
Of all they saw and heard there they shall keep
The tale for the old ivy and older brick.
When I look back I am like moon, sparrow and mouse
That witnessed what they could never understand
Or alter or prevent in the dark house.
One thing remains the same - this my right hand
Crawling crab-like over the clean white page,
Resting awhile each morning on the pillow,
Then once more starting to crawl on towards age.
The hundred last leaves stream upon the willow.