A poem I love

My interest in poetry really only took off in my final year at uni.

I’ve always struggled with – and still do – the more obscure, inaccessible stuff; the poems I can read ten times over and still feel completely puzzled by.

I like to be able to connect with a poem from the first read, to be instantly sucked in by the language and to find something in there that I can relate to.

So when I studied early 20th century poetry in third year, it’s no surprise I didn’t get on too well with Pound and Eliot. Instead I fell in love with Edward Thomas, who wrote a relatively small body of work between 1914 and 1917. He died fighting in the first world war.

I find there is a sort of pensiveness about his poems, a hint of melancholy and – at times – muted frustration that resonates with me.

A particular favourite, which I have read over and over again, is ‘Old Man’ – a poem about memory (a frequent theme in Thomas’ poems) and a desperation to remember something just outside of reach.

There’s something in the word order, repetition and rhythm that really draws you into the poem, and into Thomas’ frustration to remember…

…Where first I met the bitter scent is lost.
I, too, often shrivel the grey shreds,
Sniff them and think and sniff again and try
Once more to think what it is I am remembering,
Always in vain […]

I have mislaid the key. I sniff the spray
And think of nothing; I see and I hear nothing;
Yet seem, too, to be listening, lying in wait
For what I should, yet never can, remember:

Old Man (source – pinterest)


The full poem can be read here… Skip on over and see what you think