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(78 Posts)
NfkDumpling Mon 23-Oct-17 20:05:31

I need a lesson from you educated clever people. On last nights Countryfile some school children wrote a 'poem'. Each thought up a descriptive sentence about nature. And this apparently was a poem. To me it was just a descriptive passage, a pleasant piece of prose. The only thing vaguely poem styled was that each sentence started on a new line. No scan, no rhyme, no balance. When is a poem a poem?

CherryHatrick Mon 23-Oct-17 20:10:09

I think a poem needs to have rhythm at the very least.

Greyduster Mon 23-Oct-17 20:22:38

Perhaps what they had been taught to write was what is known as ‘free verse’.

maryeliza54 Mon 23-Oct-17 21:21:01

If someone thinks they have written a poem, then they have, haven’t they? That’s the beauty of poetry

grumppa Mon 23-Oct-17 21:33:34

Where to begin? I think there is a difference between poetry and poems. Poems should have rhythm at the very least, and may have rhyme as well. Poetry is something poetic, i.e. something couched in a style of language and thought that is beyond the merely prosaic.

Some poems may not be particularly poetic even though they rhyme (e.g. the work of William McGonagall - The Tay Bridge Disaster), and some passages structured and set out as prose may be poetic in the way they express the author's thoughts. Under Milk Wood is a good example of a poetic play that contains poems.

Other views welcome.

maryeliza54 Mon 23-Oct-17 21:46:57

I think encouraging children to write in this way is just lovely - being creative and not just something geared to the next SATs. Who knows what this might lead to? Just as when we give children paints and a brush - I think what they produce is art

NfkDumpling Mon 23-Oct-17 22:19:11

It was lovely, but not what I was brought up to think of as poetry. Poetry Please (Radio 4) comes on after The Archers so I often hear some of it and the poems on there are the same, just a short descriptive passage. Shouldn't free verse have a rythm to it? I get what you say too Grumppa about it being poetic, but I often feel frustrated that there isn't anything to follow. Where's the rest of the story. Are contemporary poets really frustrated authors who can't follow through?

NfkDumpling Mon 23-Oct-17 22:20:46


Nelliemoser Tue 24-Oct-17 00:02:37

It did not strike me as a poem either NFK for the very reasons you suggested .
I must be old fashioned. I could never enjoy Wordsworth in English in school.
Ah yes Dylan Thomas "Under Milk Wood."

If you want a good poem with mood and meaning try Wilfred Owen. All about the Great War, very bleak but beautiful. The words fitted the very sadness and are haunting.

Morgana Tue 24-Oct-17 00:44:45

I belong to two poetry writing groups and we all have very different styles. For me a poem should have rhythm and use the minimum of words. But pupils in school have to write poems and generally start by writing something prose like. If you get them to focus on rhyme then they tend to write rhyming drivel! Very hard to teach poetry if you don't write it yourself! But let's encourage poetry writing whatever your style.

NfkDumpling Tue 24-Oct-17 06:33:00

I understand that Morgana, I think my DC learned to write descriptive passages first and then moved on to 'proper' poems but on Poetry Please the contributors rarely seemed to have moved on!

How about this:

"The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it.
Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the deep end.
Over the hedge on one side we looked into a ploughed field,
And on the other we looked over a gate at our master's house, which stood by the roadside;
At the top of the meadow was a grove of fir trees, and at the bottom a running brook overhung by a steep bank."

Is this free verse, prose - or poetry? It's one of my favourite passages - but is followed by a whole book.

I just read The Tay Bridge Disaster. It's lovely. Sad and lovely. Now off to look up Wilfred Owen.

NfkDumpling Tue 24-Oct-17 06:42:26

Dulce et decorum est. Wow! Thanks Nellie

Greyduster Tue 24-Oct-17 07:16:25

One of my favourite poems is T.S. Eliot’s Journey of the Magi. It is not poetry in the usual sense, but it is in every way poetic.
If you like Dulce te Decorum Est, read Carole Ann Duffy’s ‘Last Post’.

NfkDumpling Tue 24-Oct-17 08:23:29

Thanks. My horizons are being broadened! I've always been a fan of Kipling but never ventured much further. I had hoped programmes like Poetry Please would teach me something, but instead it leaves me uninspired, confused and rather flat. Perhaps I'm trying to run before I can walk, but it feels a little like modern art which mostly leaves me cold.

Greyduster Tue 24-Oct-17 08:35:31

Journey of the Magi is an example of free verse. “The natural pattern of speech is referred to as a cadence, and it is frequently used to create the sense of rhythm in free verse”. (I learned something today too! 😊).

Morgana Tue 24-Oct-17 09:09:28

I like Edna St. Vincent Millay Sophie Hannah and Billy Collins. To name a few. All very different.

Greyduster Tue 24-Oct-17 09:17:34

Try Wendy Cope.

Anniebach Tue 24-Oct-17 09:50:44

Yes Wilfred Owen but
I can't think of any poet who has expressed the pain of grief
Deeper than Auden

trisher Tue 24-Oct-17 10:23:35

There's so much that makes a poem poem. Rhythm, rhyme, assonance, alliteration may all be there (or not). Use of smilies and metaphors. I always like this from 1967 about poetry
What The Chairman Told Tom by Basil Bunting

Poetry? It's a hobby.
I run model trains.
Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.

It's not work. You dont sweat.
Nobody pays for it.
You could advertise soap.

Art, that's opera; or repertory -
The Desert Song.
Nancy was in the chorus.

But to ask for twelve pounds a week -
married, aren't you? -
you've got a nerve.

How could I look a bus conductor
in the face
if I paid you twelve pounds?

Who says it's poetry, anyhow?
My ten year old
can do it and rhyme.

I get three thousand and expenses,
a car, vouchers,
but I'm an accountant.

They do what I tell them,
my company.
What do you do?

Nasty little words, nasty long words,
it's unhealthy.
I want to wash when I meet a poet.

They're Reds, addicts,
all delinquents.
What you write is rot.

Mr Hines says so, and he's a schoolteacher,
he ought to know.
Go and find work.

Elrel Tue 24-Oct-17 10:56:25

If children are read poetry they will become familiar with rhyme, rhythm, alliteration etc.
To compose poetry they might be encouraged to simply respond to a stimulus and suggest a few words expressing their thought. If they begin like this who knows where it could lead?

Greta Tue 24-Oct-17 12:01:34

I love Robert Hayden's (1913-1980) Those Winter Sundays. It makes me think of all the things my parents did for me. I took it all for granted.

CherryHatrick Tue 24-Oct-17 12:09:22

My mother, who went to school in the 1920s, learnt many poems at school, her favourites being The Burial of Sir John Moore, The Highwayman and other narrative poems. She would quote them frequently at home as I was growing up. In Junior school, for me poetry was a weekly lesson, and I also had to learn poems off by heart and repeat them to the teacher. I have a large collection of poetry books, and also listen to the BBC's 100 favourite poems on tape.
I love writing humorous "odes" to record special days and to enclose with birthday cards, but I think of that as a continuation of the oral history tradition, and not as an expression of emotion.It is finding exactly the right words to fit the chosen rhythm and rhyming pattern of the verse that gives me pleasure. I do find the poems used currently in the Nationwide advertising campaign very pleasing.

Morgana Tue 24-Oct-17 15:51:28

Love the poem Trisher

Greyduster Tue 24-Oct-17 16:49:56

Greta I had not heard that poem. I have added it to my long list of favourites. Very rendolent of my childhood home.

Greyduster Tue 24-Oct-17 17:12:38

I don’t know how to do links, but this is another war poet of the Second World War.
Naming of Parts by Henry Reed.

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have naming of parts.