Thursday, 2 October 2014

National Poetry Day
I expect that many of you know that I love poetry. I'm not very good at writing it but love reading it.

National Poetry Day is one of the nation's biggest celebrations of poetry and when I wore my Teacher Adviser hat before I retired, I loved this day sharing and celebrating poetry with teachers and pupils. As well as reading lots of wonderful poetry, many poems were written too. It is the day when events are planned in schools, colleges, pubs and libraries.  

What is poetry?
Many people have tried to define exactly what poetry is and this is how a dictionary defines it:
For me it's the concentrated language that appeals.Which of these definitions from famous poets appeal most to you? 

  • The best words in the best order. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • The record of the best and happiest moments of the best and happiest minds. Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • A complete poem is one where the emotion has found its thought and the thought has found its words. Robert Frost
  • Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. William Wordsworth
  • Poetry is memorable speech. W. H. Auden
  • The shortest way of saying things...It gives room to think and dream. John Betjeman
One of my favourite poets is Dylan Thomas and 2014 marks the centenary of his birth on October 27th 1914. This short animated version of Dylan's poem 'The Hunchback in the Park' is performed by Michael Sheen. Why not pop over to my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page to play it? 

Poems can provide an excellent inspiration for the writing of short stories. Della Galton's blog post on August 4th, 'Ideas - a poem that inspire's a story' shows how this is done beautifully. She explains how one of her stories which was published in Woman's Weekly had been inspired by a wonderful poem by James Nash, entitled 'The Promise'. The emotions of the poem are reflected in the story. If you haven't already done so, this is well worth a read!

One poem that has stayed with me since school days is this one by Rudyard Kipling.

The Way Through the Woods

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees

That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of the horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods...
But there is no road through the woods.

As well as the rhythm and sounds evoked in the poem through the images and internal rhymes, I like the way that Kipling has left it to readers to interpret it in their own way. Whose horse is cantering through the trees? Whose skirt is swishing in the dew? 

Poem Pigeon is an online site where you can store and share poems. There are regular competitions for members where you can focus your creative skills on various themes. The latest one was 'Haiku' and this was my effort:

Spider Webs

Fine sheer gossamer
Shimmering in morning dew
Woven in spun silk

Who is your favourite poet? Which poem has stayed with you?
Thank you for reading my blog which is my celebration of National Poetry Day. You may also follow me on @JanBayLit on Twitter.


  1. I like 'the best words in the best order' but I suppose that could describe all good writing.

  2. I love this post, Jan. And the poem through the woods is lyrical and I'm going to copy that out into my notebook as it reminds me of a ghost story I need to write up.
    I like any kind of poetry, and Rupert Brooke is a favourite of mine for his subtle humour. Also, I like a bit of nonsense poetry, like the owl and the pussycat, Rudyard Kipling, (I think). I'm a big fan of types of poetry as well, like tectatrys, and villinelle (not sure that's the right spelling) and 'Under Milkwood' is a book I keep near me at all times, for the humour and character sketches. Dylan Thomas was a clever man I think. Also some of his poems are sad though as well. I'll check out those links later on as well.

    1. 'The Way Through The Woods' is very atmospheric, isn't it? Glad to think of it going into your notebook, Sue. I remember now that Rupert Brooke is the poet in your WW1 celebration book 'The Angel And The Poet' ( and he's from Warwickshire. Thank you for commenting. :-)