i was watching numbers tonight, briefly (i missed most of it, actually), and at the end heard a poem which i felt compelled to go look for.
the poem is by siegfried sassoon and is entitled, the death-bed. there's so much in it, more than i can write now, but the thing that impacted me most is that i have forgotten how to read poetry.
the poems i grew up with remain with me - they have formed an integral part of my vocabulary, so much that on any given day i probably quote five or six poems i learned before the age of 12 in ordinary conversations without even realising that i'm doing it! i can still recite matilda, who told lies and was burned to death (by hilaire belloc, from cautionary tales for children) - a poem i first heard when i was about four years old - and fragments of verse by lewis carroll and edward lear, robert louis stevenson and dr seuss all pepper my thoughts and my words, like pilling on a suit that will not allow itself to be removed!
absorbing new poetry, however, is something i have fallen out of the habit of doing. i set myself to learning a few of shakespeare's sonnets; i managed to get three down pat (i think) and i'm sure if i put my mind to it i could learn more - i simply don't choose to. i write my own words but will not put the time into discipling myself and my writing to much in the way of a formal meter or structure.
i hope that this will be a switch to my back that will get me back into reading poetry again. in high school, we had no choice but to learn the poems we read; old eisenbart so distracted by a girl with titian hair; a woman in a park saying her children have eaten her alive; a bishop haggles with his illegitimate children for the best monument in the cemetary; a proud duke shows a visitor a picture of the last woman who would not only smile for him.
i miss them.