Old folk at lunch

Monday, June 29, 2009

Another poetry night



I arranged one of my occasional poetry nights for my son Joe on Saturday night. There were 7 of us: Joe and Samantha, Anne and myself, Jill and Lewis and Joe's mother Jenny.

It was great to see how well Lewis has recovered from his stroke. He got up and down my front stairs all by himself and seemed as mentally alert as ever.

Haggis was on the menu for the dinner but Jenny can't eat haggis because of her gluten allergy so she got French (lamb) cutlets. As lamb is now dearer than lobster in Brisbane, some of the others present may have envied her. The haggis was however praised as usual. Anne had haggis a couple of times in Scotland during her recent trip and she said that the haggis I buy is better than what they sell in Scotland.

I ran the after dinner poetry a little differently this time. Instead of whole poems, I just printed out short excerpts of a lot of favourite poems and had us all recite them together. I thought that that would embed them in Joe's mind a little better. I also then got him to read out the first verse himself. My reasoning is that reading a poem once is not the main pleasure of it. It is KNOWING the poem that pleases most.

If any of my Indian tenants were nearby they must have wondered at these strange chants emanating from my dining room. They probably put it down to a worship service for some god. In India there are all sorts of gods, of course. We even tried to sing some of the poems for which we knew tunes but the result was pretty discordant. That would have added to the weirdness to any Indian listeners, I imagine. The poem we had most success in singing together was, rather strangely, the Eton boating song.

We had a big range among the poets -- from Chaucer to G.M. Hopkins -- but we had two poems each from Blake and Tennyson.

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