Poetry Friday: This is just to say (Williams Carlos Williams)

It might be Sunday, but I’m catching up on this post anyway ūüôā It’s been a very hectic week! This is always an interesting poem to kick start a discussion on what a poem really, truly, IS. Often if you ask someone that question without any guidance, their list will include things like: It rhymes It’s got a rhythm It’s got short lines You might then, with a¬† bit of pushing and prodding, get to something along the lines of having more imagery, somehow, than a novel (though it’s often hard to define) and that it doesn’t usually tell a …

Poetry Friday: The Darkling Thrush (Thomas Hardy)

Thomas Hardy’s poetry often has some gorgeous images in it, and I certainly feel at the moment that, with ice on my car in the mornings in March, we are experiencing the “dregs of winter”! In the first stanza here there’s plenty to feel sad about – the broken lyres, haunting of mankind, the scored sky. Yet then, through it all, comes the song of the thrush singing its “full hearted evensong /¬†of joy illimited”. I love the line that the thrush “chose to fling his soul / upon the growing gloom” – the idea that no matter how dark …

Poetry Friday: Mirror (Sylvia Plath)

Sylvia Plath’s poem is heart-rending to anyone who’s ever struggled with self-image, literally disliking what they see in the mirror in front of them or with their perception of themselves. When she calls the mirror a “little god”, she’s absolutely right in the petty yet all-consuming obsession that can result from putting too much faith in your perception of the reflection rather than trying to see the ‘truth’ – whatever that might be. It can be destroying, looking at your reflection and seeing what you think is less than what it should be, whether you struggle with body consciousness, weight, …

Poetry Friday: Anne Hathaway (Carol Ann Duffy)

A favourite of mine – have studied it a lot with students and it’s always proclaimed the favourite at some point. I think I first came across it when teaching GCSE but it’s just as popular at A-level, perhaps more so because I think the students can understand some of the nuances of longing a little more by then. Shakespeare famously left Anne Hathaway his “second best bed”, as Duffy uses for the inspiration in her epigraph – because, it’s widely assumed, the best bed was the one reserved for guests and so he’s leaving her the bed they shared …

Poetry Friday: Glory of Women

I loved my A-level English class. A really great group, I have fantastic memories of discussion in a room that I probably remember as smaller than it really was, and the way my teacher made everything both absolutely clear and made me think at the same time! One of the novels we read was Pat Barker’s Regeneration, which was wonderful.¬†The story of¬†Dr Rivers, who worked at a mental hospital¬†called Craiglockhart during WWI, and treated¬†during his time there patients including Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen – it was where the two met. I¬†found the breadth of masculine relationships in the novel …

Poetry Friday: Porphyria’s Lover

This is a poem I use at school for various things, from teaching pathetic fallacy to a comparison with Much Ado About Nothing’s view of women.¬†The gothic tragedy of it has always appealed to me, from the sullen spiteful wind tearing down the elm trees just because it can, to the final, haunting image of the couple sitting together at the end. I always find students’ responses very interesting to it as well – it’s not really my intention to talk much about my day job here, but I think it’s fascinating how in whichever class I’ve used it with …