Bookings are now open for my three 2020 residential writing retreats, co-tutored with RNA Chair Alison May. Details can be found here.
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams – W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
It’s a phrase quoted to me many years ago by a teacher – and I have never forgotten it. The imagery is beautiful. The words are musical. The sentiment profound. It’s wonderful. It’s poetry at its very best.
I write very very bad poetry.
To be totally honest…. I don’t write poetry any more. It got too depressing. I have found my voice in writing novels – but sometimes I slip back into the world of poetry – mostly to revisit old favourites.
Two very different poets sit at the top of my list.
The first is Dylan Thomas. I can remember the first time I listened to Richard Burton reading Under Milk Wood – those beautiful words spoken with such a rich and powerful voice. OK, Under Milk Wood is a play for voices rather than strictly poetry, but the words dance and sing the way the best poetry does….
“It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobbled streets silent and the hunched courters’-and-rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.”
It’s music – isn’t it.
Thomas could also be direct – sledge-hammer powerful with just a few words…
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
So simple but so powerful. How can you not be moved by that?
My other favourite comes from the other end of the poetry spectrum – Australian bush balladeer Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Patterson.
His nickname says it all really – Banjo Patterson wrote songs about the bush – he just didn’t put them to music. Like Thomas, he wrote about people. The most famous being of course, the Man From Snowy River.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.
There’s a little bit of the Man in every outback hero that I write.
Banjo’s poetry was simply – a regular rhythm and ‘proper’ rhyming structure. Nothing at all literary about it… but he painted the most wonderful pictures.
And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.
(from Clancy of the Overflow)
From the great literary poets, to the folk singers and balladeers, poetry at its best is about people and their lives and their hopes and despair.
Which brings me back to William Butler Yeats – and dreams.
Do drop by next week when dreams are going to be the focus of a megablog –involving not only me but some of my (and I hope your) favourite writers.Share this page...
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