I love poetry. Part of the reason I studied English Literature at university was how I had been inspired by poetry at school. Lots of people are put off poetry in school, mostly because it’s often taught poorly. I was blessed to have several brilliant English teachers in secondary school. I was enthralled by the fusion of word and music; the way that a poem just flows out like music as balm to the soul. I love how a poem can speak volumes and simple truths all at once. I love how you can feel what the speaker feels, and feel less alone in whatever it is you’re going through.
We hear poetry throughout our lives, but often don’t recognise it as such- for example, nursery rhymes, childrens’ books, songs. Large chunks of the Bible are poetry. The moment I caught the poetry bug was when I was about 8 years old. Our class teacher decided we needed a little challenge, and so we studied Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’. It’s a beautiful story from Arthurian legend, and whilst it was ‘hardcore’ literature, it’s also a fairytale.
Over many years I’ve collected more and more ‘favourite’ poems, but today I want to share just one with you. I love this one because it’s so joyful and beautiful, and it makes me happy!
High Flight (An Airman’s Ecstasy)
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, —and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor even eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee Junior