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An English Poem

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On poetry

A couple of days ago we had a request for a lesson on poetry. I'm sure most of us have terrible memories of poetry-writing in school. I remember my teacher telling me to write a poem with no instructions on how to form one. "Just try" was her instruction...not very helpful. Can you imagine a piano teacher telling a student to "just try and play the piano' without any guidance on notes, keys or timing and expect a student to be magically able to play?

Bad memories of trying to write awkward and embarrassing poems puts many of us poetry for life.

It's only now, many years after leaving school, that I can face and appreciate poets.

In a world where technology has made us impatient and everything happens at break-neck speed, poems are a great way to unwind. We take our time reading poetry. We read and re-read every line. We savour every word. We let the words form mental images in our mind. My favourite thing about poems is that they don't need to have a clear meaning. They should be opaque. It's impossible to get inside the poets thoughts to find his meaning. The important thing is what it means to you and how it makes you feel. I'm sure that when you read a poem when you are 18 and then read it again when you are 30 it will have a very different meaning.

So here's a short poem by one of my favourite poets Emily Dickinson.

'If I can stop one heart from breaking' - Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live
in vain;
If I can
ease one life the aching,
Or cool one
Or help one
fainting robin
Unto his
nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Links in this poem will take you to http://dictionary.cambridge.org

Key vocabulary

awkward - causing problems, worry or nervousness
appreciate - to understand something has value or is important.
face -  If you face a problem, or a problem faces you, you have to deal with it.
break-neck speed (idiom) very fast.
unwind - to relax after being busy or stressed.
savour - to enjoy an experience slowly so that we enjoy it as much as possible.
opaque - describes writing or speech that is difficult to understand.

What are your thoughts on poetry? Do you have a poem that you would like to contribute?

Link: Dickens 'A Tale of Two Cities'