Burnham on Crouch

Poetry Appreciation

Status:Active, open to new members
Frances Harris Tel: 01621 783770
Group email: Poetry Appreciation group
When: Monthly on Monday afternoons
2nd Monday of each month at 2:30pm
Venue: Member's Home

A monthly meeting where we read aloud and comment on / discuss two or three poems selected by members on a chose theme. Tea and coffee generally provided along with biscuits.

April 2023

"Kings and Queens"

It seemed appropriate that the subject for April was Kings and Queens. Shakespeare was an obvious choice, with the selections ranging from the rallying cry of Henry V: “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,” to the beautiful, sensory description of Cleopatra: “The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne/Burned on the water”. We were intrigued by the sense of mortality in “Richard II”: “Within the hollow crown/That rounds the mortal temples of a King/Keeps death his court.”
Centuries later, “Floral Tribute”, Simon Armitage’s tribute to the late Queen also conveyed the sense of life ending, as well as the end of an era. Some of the lines were very poignant: “The country loaded itself into your slender hands, /Hands that can rest, now, relieved of a century’s weight.”
Death is also a theme in “The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens”, where the narrative is kept moving by the strong rhyme and rhythm and the prevalent use of dialogue.
Not all poetry has a serious theme. “The Queen of Hearts” for instance, by Christina Rossetti, about her singular lack of success at cards is skilfully written in rhyming couplets: “Cut and shuffle, shuffle, cut again, /but all my cutting, shuffling proves in vain.”
We also all enjoyed the “Short Poem about the Kings and Queens of England”, feeling that its succinct, amusing style neatly encapsulated the history of our monarchy. It began with: “Willie, Willie, Harry, Ste, / Harry, Dick, John, Harry three”, continuing through the Tudors and Stuarts with: “Mary, Bessie, James the Vain, /Charlie, Charlie, James again.” The last verse ends: “Edward Seven, George and Ted, /George the Sixth, now Liz instead.” (And with the coronation of Charles III imminent, it’s tempting to add some more lines: “We wonder what’s to come might forge/With Charlie, Wills, another George.”)
-Frances Harris