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What is your favourite poem or line from a poem?

Royaumont Abbey, FranceI have always enjoyed poetry. When I was a child I first heard The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and asked my teacher to read it over and over again. I’m not sure whether it was the rhythm of the poem or that it was chock full of love, blood and gore, but I loved it then and I love it still.

Poems that deal with loss and love are still favourites. Who could read  Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep, by Mary Elizabeth Frye and not feel comforted.

Do not stand at my grave and weep

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rushOf quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,I am not there; I did not die.

There are many many others, like Christina Rossetti’s Remember, for example. I particularly like the last two lines

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than you should remember me and be sad.

Then, of course, there are the love poems- too many to mention. One of my favourite poets is W.B Yeats. Has anyone read The Lake of Innisfree? Don’t you love the line ‘And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,’ or  the whole of He Wishes for The Cloths of Heaven in particular the last two lines 

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams

These are only the tiniest examples of many, many. What about you? Do you have a poem or a line from one that has always stayed in your head? If so, please share.

Anne xx

By the way, the photo is of Royaumont Abbey near Paris. I was there last year with my daughter. 


13 thoughts on “What is your favourite poem or line from a poem?”

  1. Ooooh, too many to choose from. Loved WH Auden’s ‘Stop All the Clocks’ in Four Weddings and a Funeral. I read the War Poets at school and still remember a lot of those.

    I guess I’m like you, Anne, I like the love and loss ones.
    A particular favourite is by e.e. cummings:

    somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond

    any experience, your eyes have their silence:

    in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,

    or which i cannot touch because they are too near

    your slightest look easily will unclose me

    though i have closed myself as fingers,

    you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens

    (touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

    or if your wish be to close me, i and

    my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,

    as when the heart of this flower imagines

    the snow carefully everywhere descending;

    nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals

    the power of your intense fragility: whose texture

    compels me with the color of its countries,

    rendering death and forever with each breathing

    (i do not know what it is about you that closes

    and opens; only something in me understands

    the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

    nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

    1. Wow, Louise,that’s beautiful. ‘your slightest look will unclose me’ and ‘your eyes have their silence’ are wonderful lines. Not altogether sure what they mean but that’s the beauty of poetry!

  2. Ohh, Louise you beat me to it! I would have said Auden. Let me throw in some Australian poets…I love Banjo Patterson. He wrote the words to Waltzing Matilda as well as The Man From Snowy River

  3. Hi Fiona
    I’ve never heard of Banjo Patterson, at least I didn’t know he wrote the words to Waltzing Matilda, To be honest, I don’t think I know The Man From Snowy River… what about sharing a line or two?

  4. I love William Wordsworth’s Daffodils. When I first read it I could not imagine Daffodils growing in the abundance he described. I love the idea that you can appreciate nature and then remember it and love it all over again.

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    Continuous as the stars that shine
    and twinkle on the Milky Way,
    They stretched in never-ending line
    along the margin of a bay:
    Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
    tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

    The waves beside them danced; but they
    Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
    A poet could not but be gay,
    in such a jocund company:
    I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
    what wealth the show to me had brought:

    For oft, when on my couch I lie
    In vacant or in pensive mood,
    They flash upon that inward eye
    Which is the bliss of solitude;
    And then my heart with pleasure fills,
    And dances with the daffodils.

    I also loved The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and The Highwayman.

    1. I’ve found someone else who appreciates the Highway man! Judging by your other two poets you also like poems with a dark side.
      I like a poem that sums up a feeling- or puts me in a place and Wordworth’s Daffodils does just that, I can’t remember when I last read the whole poem so thanks for putting it up.

  5. Too many to choose from, Anne! One single line that lodged in my head some time ago and simply refuses to go away, is the first line of ‘The Voice’ by Thomas Hardy.

    ‘Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,’

    And ‘Crossing the Bar’ by Alfred Tennyson, is very special to me:-

    Sunset and evening star,
    And one clear call for me!
    And may there be no moaning of the bar,
    When I put out to sea,

    But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
    When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

    Twilight and evening bell,
    And after that the dark!
    And may there be no sadness or farewell,
    When I embark;

    For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
    I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.

    1. It’s a great first line- so full of loss and desire! I studied Tennyson at uni but Crossing the Bar isn’t one I remember – it’s Maud which is too long to write here and anyway I can’t find it at the moment! (I have the Norton Anthology of Poetry which has most popular poems and it’s not in there.) One of the lines that does stick in my memory is ‘and my heart was a handful of dust.’ Don’t you just love that image? It must have been where Waugh got the title of his book…

  6. Anne, I love poetry too, especially the work of John Donne and George Herbert. Donne’s Holy Sonnets are some of my particular favourites, especially no 10.

    Deat be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadfull, for thou art not soe,
    For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow,
    Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.

    I also love Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress.

    Had we but World enough and time,
    This coyness lady were no crime.
    We would sit down and think which way
    To walk and pass our long Lovers Day.

    (There’s now a long section where Marvell tries to convince is lady friend to succumb to his wishes before this fab line, probably the best bit of seduction I’ve ever read!)

    But at my back I alwaies hear
    Times winged Charriot hurrying near:
    And yonder all before us lye
    Deserts of vast Eternity.
    Thy beauty shall no more be found;
    Nor in they marble Vault shall sound
    My ecchoing song; then worms shall try
    That long preserv’d Virginity:
    And your quaint honour turn to dust;
    And into ashes all my Lust.
    The Grave’s a fine and private place,
    But none I think do there embrace.

    I just love that poem and the determination – and cunning – that goes with it!

    Great topic. Thanks for talking about it.
    PS Love the photo – what a gorgeous place.

    1. Who couldn’t let themselves be seduced by those lines- and their warning? I love the naughtiness…
      And why are we all fascinated by poems of death? I always think of Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas which I can’t reproduce here as it’s still in copy right- but the first line says it all…

  7. If by Rudyard Kipling.
    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

  8. It’s Britain’s favourite poem according to wikipedia! But for some reason it’s not in my anthology. I think the line could also read you’ll be a woman, my daughter! Thanks for sharing, Lynne.

  9. I’m awful but I love the old British poems that were politcal satire. Ode to a Louse by Robert Burns. The thought of all those stuffy people being no better than those on the street is funny to me.

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