Today is National Poetry day and people are posting favourite poems on Facebook and R4 is devoting a whole day to it. I woke up this morning to Piers Plowman on Farming Today.
Andrew Marr is spearheading a day examining ‘We British’ through poetry today (iplayer is your friend if you want to catch up)
As I write this they’ve just finished the Victorians, Tennyson was mentioned. I feel that I should be more fond of Tennyson because we share a birthday, but like me Tennyson can be too much. Having said that sometimes he just nails it. Take a look at the Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington, a poem that you can’t help but feel that the Duke would not have enjoyed. It’s long and overwrought and there’s far to much emphasis on England but at the end he sums up the truth of death and hope of all Christians in a way that the Victorians had….
He is gone who seem’d so great.-
Gone; but nothing can bereave him
Of the force he made his own.
Being here, and we believe him
Something far advanced in State,
And that he wears a truer crown
Than any wreath that man can weave him
Speak no more of his renown,
Lay your earthly fancies down,
And in the vast cathedral leave him,
God accept him, Christ receive him.
Which is why poetry needs a day, because of it’s ability to grab at and express some essential truth of us…