Learning by heart

Learning by heart

Listening time: 10 minutes. It’s been playing on my mind, the fact that recently I haven’t learned any new poems by heart.  This led me to revisit a short essay I wrote a while back, which I’m glad to share in this podcast.  The written text, along...
A private anthology

A private anthology

Although this is a public domain website, it is also a ‘private anthology’, and wonderful will be the day when I have committed to memory more than a handful of its treasures.  These notes and quotes concerning learning things by heart are the ground...
Like a house that stays standing

Like a house that stays standing

Recently, I’ve been turning over in my mind poems learned by heart, and searching the memory banks of some once committed to memory and now only half recalled. Time to get back into a rhythm of learning by heart, including many new poems and the trickier...
Like the last of his life

Like the last of his life

Harold Bloom’s comment on Hart Crane (1899-1932) is all the more poignant knowing that Crane considered some of his major work to have been a failure, suffered recurring bouts of alcoholism, and appears to have committed suicide when he jumped overboard a ship...
Poetry as gleaning

Poetry as gleaning

A telling comment by Christopher Isherwood on W.H. Auden’s approach to revising his poems. It makes one wonder how many scholars have wasted hours peering deeply into some poem of ‘celebrated obscurity’ which was never more than an accretion of lines...
To be forever on the road

To be forever on the road

A marvelous metaphor to describe poetry and its relationship to speaking; I like this notion of realising that speaking is being on the road, and of a word turning out to be longer than we thought.What distinguishes poetry from automatic speech is that it rouses us...
The original fake news

The original fake news

‘Fake news’ is nothing but a new term for the age old curses of rumour or propaganda, so it’s good to be reminded that these were always with us. And let’s remember to keep adding a pinch of salt to the spice bowls of rumour.  Rumour who loves...
Speed meets beauty

Speed meets beauty

One of the most vivid and original similes I have come across is Ted Hughes’ description of the two dazzling qualities of the athletic Atalanta: her speed and her beauty.  Against such speed and such a simile, taut wrought like that powering air-borne arrow,...

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