Despite having studied on a degree in which reading poetry made up a huge chunk of many units, I’ve never actually been a big fan of poetry. Always been more of a prose fan. Why have I decided to talk about this now?
Mainly it’s because I haven’t been able to get the final stanza of Robert Frost’s Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening out of my head after hearing it in a film or TV programme recently:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening BY ROBERT FROST Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
Source: Poetry Foundation
It’s a rather haunting final stanza, which is probably why it gets referred to a lot in different media texts. Probably why it’s stayed with me too and is one of my fave poems.
Strangely though, despite my general dislike of most poetry, I ended up writing a dissertation on the author and poet Sherman Alexie when I was in the final year of my degree, which meant that I had to study his poetry. And so through familiarising myself with some of his earlier poetry, I kind of ended up liking it.
But really, my second favourite poem of all time is On the Ning Nang Nong by Spike Milligan:
On the Ning Nang Nong BY SPIKE MILLIGAN On the Ning Nang Nong Where the Cows go Bong! and the monkeys all say BOO! There's a Nong Nang Ning Where the trees go Ping! And the tea pots jibber jabber joo. On the Nong Ning Nang All the mice go Clang And you just can't catch 'em when they do! So its Ning Nang Nong Cows go Bong! Nong Nang Ning Trees go ping Nong Ning Nang The mice go Clang What a noisy place to belong is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!
Source: Spike Milligan
Mostly it’s down to how it plays with sounds and is obviously quite fun to read aloud. Plus the wacky imagery it brings up is kinda cool.
I also have a soft spot for some of the poems of Stéphane Mallarmé and Ezra Pound. But you would never catch me reading a book of poetry for fun, which is why I mark it out so much from any of my other pursuits.