I caught sight of a letter someone had written last night. I knew the handwriting well, but couldn’t place it for a moment. It belonged to Wilfred Owen, first world war poet and featured for a few seconds in a programme about poetry celebrating National Poetry Week. (To watch it, follow the link below.)
I loved Owen’s poetry for A-level English so much that I bought a biography. Photographs of letters and first drafts were dotted through its pages. Prompted by the programme, I wanted to read it again, but it has long gone AWOL in one of several house moves along the way.
Other poets have got into my bloodstream since Owen. TS Eliot, John Donne, Larkin, Gerard Manley-Hopkins and more recently, Carol Ann Duffy (courtesy of The Daughter’s A-level English syllabus). In fact, my other blog title http://whatidoisme.wordpress.com/ about writing – is borrowed from a Manley-Hopkins poem:
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves – goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.
The most moving part of last night’s programme for me (7.50 in) was when contemporary poet, Charlie Dark, told how he had been bullied at school. A teacher had told him to write down his feelings in a journal. One day, his tormentor cornered him as usual and some of the words he had written down came into his head and he said them aloud. The bully backed off. After that, Charlie became the school’s ‘bard’, asked to write messages and poems in cards for his mates.
Powerful things, words.