Come on, baby- do the Andrew Motion

Dylan Thomas
was full of promas
but he couldn’t resist
getting pissed.

Ted Hughes
had eccentric views.
He wrote about owls
and bowels.

Robert Frost
got dreadfully lost.
They found him, forsaken,
on The Road not Taken.

Mad Lord Byron
was an ace with the iron.
In his shirt, when appareled,
he looked like Childe Harold.

Cheese lovers

John Milton
was fond of Stilton,
But Percy Byshe Shelley
loved anything smelly.

Making less mean more

You know the format. Which ( let’s say five) poetry collections would you take to a desert island ? And why ? Who are the poets who really matter to you ?

I’ll nominate my five winners in later posts. At the moment, though, I want to name three . who won’t be  spending their time with suntan oil and tall, cool drinks.

1.Ted Hughes.

Ok- he’s a great poet and “Thought Fox” is the best poem ever written about writing a poem. But  Ted doesn’t do cheerful, not even mildly optimistic. And he loves guts.

I once heard him read “ Crow” on the radio. It was past midnight, and the wind was howling outside. He scared me rigid. Woke up screaming for a week afterwards. Likes his viscera, does Ted.

2.Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Don’t jump down my throat- yet. I know he is a superb, spiritual poet. I can see that phrases like “ shining out like shook foil” are incredibly clever. But somehow they don’t bang my drum. I get it- intellectually. But not emotionally. Maybe he works too hard, but he leaves me cold- always has.

You want a good religious poet ? Read George Herbert. I mean it. Read him. He’s the best.

3.TS Eliot

I used to have endless arguments with a dear friend (long dead) about TSE. John said he had captured the very essence of the twentieth century, but I can’t help thinking that his style is deliberately obscure. Poetry should be difficult. You should have to work hard to understand it, because a poem says something about what it is to be alive, and that’s a complex business. However ,the trick lies , not in hanging endless footnotes from your poem ( “ The Waste Land”) , but, through skill and heart, making less mean more.

To be fair “ Four Quartets” is tightly written, complex and worthwhile.


But TS doesn’t get to go on the Caribean holiday.