Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lost Poems

In a Twitter exchange with Barbara McLaughlin, I was reminded of how much I was influenced by various poems, upon first reading them. And the pleasure of recalling lines or recognizing a stanza when stumbling across them years later. I remember first hearing the song Memory on the radio – before knowing about the musical Cats - and being sure that the lyrics were from T.S. Eliot. Just this past week a mystery novel I was reading quoted Dowson’s Cynara, and Barbara got me thinking of Ginsberg’s “angel-headed hipsters.” I have never been able to memorize poems thoroughly, except for Raymond Souster’s, “In your eyes, my whole life heaves, breaks, smashes. In your eyes, suddenly without love.” I’ve always liked Leonard Cohen’s “tidal waves of crow-stained sky,” in his poem about the van Gogh brothers. And I remember On Dover Beach, Keats’ Grecian Urn, Gray’s Elegy, and quite a bit of Yeats, all for different reasons. There seems to be no time in my life to sit down with the large anthologies that were my constant companions in university, or to seek out individual volumes by various poets. I have managed to incorporate a couple of favourites into my English course, the narrative poems David by Earle Birney, and The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. I think I may start a scrapbook of favourites, seeking them out and making copies to read and enjoy more easily. Then I wondered about creating an online collection, but it just wouldn’t be the same. Or maybe little Blackberry files?

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