The effect of this poem may be enhanced by watching and listening to this YouTube video in which Matthew Macfadyen reads the poem ‘This Is Just To Say’
William Carlos Williams ( 1883 – 1963 ) had an English father and a Puerto Rican mother. He grew up in Rutherford, New Jersey. He was an American poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. He was also a physician practising both paediatrics and general medicine. With Ezra Pound and H.D.Williams he was a leading poet of the Imagist movement and often wrote of American subjects and themes. He became an inspiration to the Beat generation in the 1950s and 60s. As in the poem above, his poetry was often domestic in focus and was described as “remarkable for its empathy, sympathy, its muscular and emotional identification with its subjects.”
Known primarily as a novelist, Kurt Vonnegut (1922 – 2007) was an American writer. He published 14 novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction. He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’, published in(1969.
I do like this short poem of his which I came across only recently. Apparently it was never given a title by Vonnegut and was discovered in a letter of 1961 sent by him to a friend. It has a delightfully simple and artless warmth which engenders such good feeling and optimism.
Two little good girls Watchful and wise — Clever little hands And big kind eyes — Look for signs that the world is good, Comport themselves as good folk should. They wonder at a father Who is sad and funny strong, And they wonder at a mother Like a childhood song. And what, and what Do the two think of? Of the sun And the moon And the earth And love.
Not to be confused with his more famous namesake who played such an important role in the early colonisation of North America, (1582 – 1618), Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (1861 – 1922) was an English scholar, poet, and author. He was born in London, the fifth child and only son of a local Congregation minister. Raleigh is buried in the churchyard of the parish church of St. Lawrence at North Hinksey, near Oxford. His son Hilary edited his light prose, verse, and plays in ‘Laughter from a Cloud (1923). He is probably best known for the poem “Wishes of an Elderly Man, Wished at a Garden Party, June 1914”.
It is this poem, bitter-sweet and with its pessimistic view of mankind, but not without its wry humour, which I have chosen to remind my readers of today . . .
I wish I loved the Human Race
I wish I loved the Human Race; I wish I loved its silly face; I wish I liked the way it walks; I wish I liked the way it talks; And when I’m introduced to one, I wish I thought ‘What Jolly Fun’.
RYE is an English town near the coast in East Sussex. It was one of the original Cinque Ports and parts of the original walls and town gates, once built to guard against invasions from the French, still remain. Over the centuries, however, the sea has receded leaving Rye Harbour and the coast of the English Channel about 2 miles (3.2 km) downriver from the town. In the town centre, cobbled lanes like Mermaid Street still exist lined with medieval, half-timbered houses. The redbrick Lamb House was once owned by writer Henry James. Nearby, the tower of the Norman St. Mary’s Church overlooks the town.
Low tide on the River Rother at Rye
Ancient Rye Mill, reconstructed in 1932 after a fire destroyed much of the superstructure
Fascinating weather-worn textures in part of the ancient town walls
Looking uphill along the cobbled Mermaid Street to Lamb House at the top right
View across the roofs of the town from the roof of St. Mary’s Church tower
Another view across the roofs of the town from the roof of St. Mary’s Church tower
View towards the River Rother from the roof of St. Mary’s Church tower
A Burne-Jones stained-glass window in St.Mary’s Church
A lovely corner window in the town
House front near St.Mary’s Church
One of the ancient town entry gates
The green plaque is inscribed ‘Radclyffe Hall (1880 – 1943), Novelist, lived here.’
A poem written to keep in my memory the thoughts engendered by the music played at my wife’s funeral eight weeks ago today. Composed by Vaughan Williams, ‘The Lark Ascending’ was very much her favourite piece of classical music. The version used was played on the violin by the Scottish violinist, Nicola Benedetti, and can be heard on YouTube at: ‘The Lark Ascending’
Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah (born 15 April 1958) is a British writer, poet and Rastafarian. He was included in The Times list of Britain’s top 50 post-war writers in 2008. Zephaniah was born and raised in the Handsworth district of Birmingham which he has called the “Jamaican capital of Europe”. He is the son of a Barbadian postman and a Jamaican nurse. A dyslexic, he attended an approved school but left aged 13 unable to read or write.
He now writes that his poetry is strongly influenced by the music and poetry of Jamaica and what he calls “street politics”. His first performance was in church when he was eleven, and by the age of fifteen, his poetry was already known among Handsworth’s Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities.