Session #14 September 30th: Poetry

UPDATE: Thanks to all of you for attending today. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of you there, even the person who said they don’t like poetry!

I would be interested to read your comments about today’s session.

Today we read Happiness and Buckingham Palace by A.A. Milne (author of “Winnie The Pooh“), with illustrations by Ernest Shephard, The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear, a limerick by Edward Lear, and some free verse by Edwin Morgan (“The Loch Ness Monster’s Song” (click on the link to hear a real Scotsman reading the poem aloud!), “Siesta of a Hungarian Snake”, “Spacepoem 3: Off Course (includes a link to an audio)”, and “Chinese Cat”).

Edward Lear was a contemporary of Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll. Carroll also wrote nonsense verse. The Jabberwocky is perhaps the most famous example (from Alice Through the Looking Glass). On YouTube I found these 2 videos of the poem being read aloud: this one is an animation of Lewis Carroll “reading” his poem (it’s not his voice, of course); this one is a collection of illustrations by different artists of the Jabberwock, while a woman reads the poem aloud.

The wonders of the Internet! Here is a video of someone who has put The Owl and the Pussycat to music and sings his song himself; here is a home-made animation of the poem; here is another version by janeczka (sounds like a Czech name); here is another version with an illustration by Lear himself. The poem itself was written in 1871! More than 130 years ago, and yet it is still so popular.

Some other “nonsense verse” by Lear: The Jumblies, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat, The Akond of Swat; The Pobble who has no toes.


Today, we are going to read some English poetry, starting with some children’s and humorous verse. Then we will read some sonnets. Did you look up the words listed in the Poetry worksheet? You still have some time before the session!

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13 thoughts on “Session #14 September 30th: Poetry”

  1. I haven’t read poetry in English and I didn’t have any chance to know about it. Until this session I thought that poetry is difficalt to understand it’s content. But this time I sturdied many things of poetry and I felt fun when I read it aloud. I’m glad to be able to have the new knowledge on poetry.

  2. I was taught how to read English poem for the first time. It was like music, because they had rhythm, beat, syllable and foot.The first hearing exam with looking at Marc’s mouth was useful. After that we could easily find rhymes. I thought I like to read them in a warm voice again and again.

  3. My name(slithy)was a portmanteau word that made by Lewis Carol.Slithy means lithe and slimy,according to Carol.I heard they made jabber work to fit to the rule of verse.It is interesting.I think is nonsense and funny,looks like art and it is nice to mount it into the frame and decorate.
    By the way There are stressed or unstressed in a verse.and they make rhythm. It makes me confortable,a little excited.

  4. I had a pleasant time as always.

    Children’s poems convey lovely images only being read with eyes, but when being read out loud, keeping the beat of the lines, I felt they got animated.

    As to three Edwin Morgan’s poems, I’m just seeing letters, not words that have a meaning, yet I see, hear, and understand what’s happening vividly before my eyes. A poet’s magic handling with letters.

  5. The sound and rythm are very important for poem,especially reading poetry,aren’t they? Even only just sound gives us some imagination. So in that meaning, The Loch Ness Monster’s song or Siesta of Hungarian Snake is a kind of poetry, I think. In fact, about ten years ago I cruised on the Loch Ness to find a monster named Nessie after taking one day-tour around High-land area.Around the Loch Ness some old castles stood and some men played the bagpipes in kilts.When cruising, I heard so many sound (eg.ripples,waves,birds and bagpipes) beneath truely blue sky that I could imagine the song of the legend monster.While I heard mixed many sound,I imagined as if the monster really existed and appeared,singing then.(Though afterward I was very disappointed by the report that the existence of the monster,Nessie was a fiction made by a faker. It is said he took a monster’s picture, using some thing like graphic design, so every one’s dream disappeared.Also though this is not related to the poem.I am sorry.)
    It is another impressive thing about poetry that authors made ‘nonsense’ poem to adjust rhyme and to make sound sound as a poem rule. So I think the thought of nonsense helps them find proper words and make poems. Nonsense is a good means for the authors and has a good meaning, hasn’t it?

    1. I quite agree with you, Autumnal Tints. Though the report about the monster took away our fantasy, product of a playful spirit or inspiration from the poet never spoils. Funny but the imagery evokes somehow a feeling of loneliness, living alone from time immemorial.

  6. Laughter escaped my lips to hear “Lockness Monster’s Song” read by a skillful reader. How playful and funny! It got me to picture Lockness Monster to myself.

  7. We learned basic rules and words of poetry and enjoyed the style by ears and eyes. In old days, people read poet aloud, but gradually it became to be just read in silence. This is common with Japan. There is a word Utage(宴)in Japanese which points out that the party was held with food and poet originally.

    1. In Wales, poetry is a much more alive tradition than in England, it seems, according to this newspaper article:

      The word poetry in England perhaps ranks only with the phrase “Arts Council” as the deadest phrase one can write in a newspaper nowadays. This is not so in Wales, where poetry is an art form practised and appraised in public forums. Its heroic status and its rules and disciplines are unchanged since the Middle Ages. There can’t be many other places in the world where a whole nation gathers every year to hail a poet as its champion. It sounds like a concept from classical Athens, but it happens every year at the Eisteddfod, where a literary champion is hailed with all the enthusiasm of a Cup Final crowd.

      Eisteddfod is a Welsh arts festival, held once a year.

  8. 英語の詩 は T.S. Eliot , Sorrow , チョウサー など を 大学で 勉強していました。今日の 詩 は 不思議で おもしろかったです。私に とっては 小説はお気に入り の スーツ に 着替えて 旅 に 出る 感じですが 詩 は ふだん着の まま 突然 パッと 海 を 見に行きたくて 出掛ける 感じです。日本の詩 では 萩原朔太郎・室生犀星・宮澤賢治・寺山修二 とかに 傾倒していました。

    俳句 は いつも 台所 で ふと できたり します。英語 で 作っても おもしろいですね。

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