A poet who speaks to all ages

I adore poetry and cannot remember a time when I didn’t.

I suppose my parents must have read to me when I was very young, possibly nursery rhymes. It is amazing how many of those I know without actually remembering reading them myself.

As I got older I was introduced to more “serious” poetry. The works of Keats, Wordsworth, Browning, and more were on the bookshelves in the hall and lounge. Quite a few of them, including the Shakespeare, were school prizes won by my father and his sister.

I loved the flow of words, and even devoured the nonsense poems of Edward Lear and later Spike Milligan.

The older I got the wider my net was cast and I left Lear behind me as I embraced Wilde, Thomas and Hughes (both Ted and Frieda as it happened).

I do remember in later life my brother talking of a great poetical story book he had bought for his grandchildren all about a bear hunt by a children’s poet called Michael Rosen.

I didn’t pay too much attention as my own children were, I thought, beyond children’s poetry and I didn’t have any grandchildren at that time.

Later I did read odd bits of poetry by Michael Rosen but it was not until Covid hit and I spent a bit more time online with Twitter that he really came to my attention.

People I followed and who followed me were talking about Michael Rosen being seriously ill in hospital with Covid and there were references and links to Emma-Louise Williams @Underthecranes with daily updates on his condition.

It was later that I discovered Emma-Louise Williams is Michael Rosen’s wife and the family were using her Twitter account to keep his friends and fans informed as to his condition.

All those who know and love Michael Rosen are aware that thanks to the dedicated care he, and thousands of other NHS patients, received he pulled through, although he has been left with Long Covid.

Once he got back on Twitter himself I began following him as his Tweets were both hilarious and incisive as he related his ongoing recovery.

I still thought of him as a children’s poet (he had been Children’s Poet Laureate after all) but found his Tweets went further than children’s poetry. He also has a political conscience.

Late last year I found out that he had written political poetry as well as his children’s work and I decided to put Fighters for Life, selected poems by Michael Rosen on my Christmas list (along with CDs by Bix Beiderbecke, a black on red Guevara Tshirt and the final seven books in Andrea Camilleri’s Montalbano series).

When Christmas Day dawned my wish list was fulfilled.

I have been dipping in and out of Fighters for Life over the past week and want to introduce you to one that really struck a chord with me. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do:

A family arrived and said that they had papers
to prove that his house was theirs
-- No, no, said the man, my people have always lived here.
   My father, grandfather . . . and look in the garden,
   my great-grandfather planted that.
-- No, no, said the family, look at the documents.

There was a stack of them.

-- Where do I start? said the man.
-- No need to read the beginning, they said,
   Turn to the page marked 'Promised Land',
-- Are they legal? he said. Who wrote them?
-- God, they said, God wrote them, look,
   here come His tanks.

I love Michael Rosen. He doesn't need many words to make his point.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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