I have a large collection of books, even some going back to the 1800s. and amid them are many poetry books. Some I inherited from my father, school prizes won by him and by his sister, Dorothy, who died very young.
There is Longfellow, Yeats, Elizabeth Barrett Browning – running on to Rossetti, to which I have added many more of my own poetry books such as Dylan Thomas, McGough, Lawrence, Hughes and Heaney.
Much as I love them all my current favourite is my latest addition – Poetry Please The Nation’s Favourite Poems, an anthology of poems requested on the Radio 4 programme hosted by Liverpudlian Roger McGough, which was given to me on Father’s Day this year by my dear daughter Jacqueline.
Today I decided to pick a poem from the book at random.
Snow in the suburbs
by Thomas Hardy
Every branch big with it, Bent every twig with it; Every fork like a white web-foot; Every street and pavement mute: Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward when Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again. The palings are glued together like a wall, and there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall. A sparrow enters the tree, Whereon immediately A snow-lump thrice his own slight size Descends on him and showers his head and eye And overturns him And near inurns him, And lights on a nether twig, when its brush Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush. The steps are a blanched slope, Up which, with feeble hope, A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin And we take him in.
We’ve all seen it when our gardens and the road beyond are transformed under a blanket of snow, which hides the defects as it layers them with that glistening white layer.
I remember one house where we lived and it was not just a shallow slope created from the steps, instead the snow was so deep that it came to the top step and actually hid a steeper slope beneath it where the drive ran down to meet the road.
Hardy’s wintry scene came decades before that crisp white snow that hid our garden and covered the branches of our trees with its white magic, yet that poem takes me instantly to that winter when my son was born.
I am sure you all have your favourite poems, well Liverpool poet Roger McGough has collected many of my favourites in this volume: Poetry Please.