Poetry corner, 2013

Every March I ask students on the advanced courses to bring in poems of their choice to read out in class. The resulting sessions are a bit like Dead Poets’ Society, except no one does anything embarrassing like stand on their desk or invite Robin Williams. Instead they’re a good way to be reminded that even if you don’t feel you can write it (despite my efforts to persuade you otherwise), then poetry should at least be part of your regular reading. They’re also a great way to get introduced to new stuff. This year I thought I’d share what I’ve heard in both sessions by listing all the poems here, along with a web link to each of them. Happy reading!  

W.B. Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree
Edward Thomas, Adlestrop
Christina Rossetti, Remember
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Advice
Brian McCabe, Seagull 
Robert Louis Stevenson, The Land of Counterpane
Edna St Vincent Millay, Travel
Michael Ondaatje, a poem from The Collected Works of Billy the Kid
Robert Louis Stevenson, Requiem
Raymond Carver, Late Fragment
Louisa Gallacher, Wee Louis
Louisa from the Friday class was absent the previous week, so she didn’t know she had to bring in a poem. Instead she recited this, her own composition – from memory.
I’ll tell you a story, ’tis strange you will see
For forty odd years it has dwelt within me
Aunt Katie she died leaving four boys, real young,
Louis the youngest was a beautiful son
The day of the funeral my granny abed
Was crying and screaming, with grief out her head
‘Bring Louis!’ she shouted, ‘Bring Louis!’ she cried
‘I want to have Louis right here by my side.’
I then age seven was brought to her bed
‘No! No! That’s not Louis,’ my grandmother said
‘It’s Katie!’ she shouted, ‘You don’t understand,
It’s Kate she’s got Louis, tight by the hand.’
‘Bring Louis!’ screamed Granny, ‘Bring Louis, please find
Cos Katie’s no wanting to leave him behind.’
My wee cousin Louis they sent me to find
To try and bring Granny some peace o’ mind
Out in the street, there was a big crowd
The sky it was dark, the noise it seemed loud
The hearse at the close all shiny and black 
A lorry passed by with some boys in the back
But with them was Louis, I heard someone call
The lorry reversed, I saw Louis fall
The next thing I knew when I looked around
My wee cousin Louis lay dead on the ground
I often wondered if I was to blame
When Louis let go had I called his name?
W.S. Merwin, Separation (coincidentally chosen by two students)
Billy Collins, Japan
Carol Ann Duffy, The Darling Letters
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
Charles Bukowski, The Laughing Heart
Seamus Heaney, Glanmore Sonnets No. VII
Jonathan Swift, I’ve often wish’d that I had clear, for Life . . .
From The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam (translated by Edward Fitzgerald)
John Donne, Holy Sonnet XIV
Declan O’Rourke, Time Machine (song)
J.R.R. Tolkien, from The Lord of the Rings
Tim Key, Poem 467, ‘The Compliment’
I think that’s them all – if you were at either session and notice anything missing please leave a link in the comments box below.




  1. aw many thanks for this, what a good idea, I felt recently that I just didnt read enough poetry and got a book from the library from the Enthusiasts guide to things? well, talk about inspiriational! I read a wee bit of it, not for all that long, just randomly and then… I wrote a poem!
    couldn’t believe how just reading poetry appreciation can find you a voice so to speak!
    am so well jealous of Louisa’s gift of writing! may be a shade of green for the rest of the day but then again – as I am suffering rather from chocolate poisoning, self imposed am afraid I am a fairly moss covered shade of green as is it, am slowly coming to……….

  2. Peter Lynch · · Reply

    What a pleasant surprise, some of these will be printed and kept, and hidden where they will be found at random, then enjoyed all over again. Thank you David, thank you contributors.

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