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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
What's your favourite poem?
Now in its eighth year, National Poetry Day is taking place today. This year's theme is Journeys.

The organisers of National Poetry Day, the Poetry Society, have organised a series of events including Sir Paul McCartney in a Poetry Olympics Marathon at The Queen's Theatre in London.

National Poetry Day will also see the publication of a special tenth anniversary edition of The Forward Book of Poetry, Poems of the Decade - a poetic journey through the last ten years.

So do you have a poem that means a lot to you, especially one with a transport theme? What's your favourite poem for this poetry day?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


My favourites include T S Eliot

John Kearney, UK
My favourites include T S Eliot for the bleak and unforgiving "Wasteland" and "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock" (although ironically I have no time for his "Practical Cats" work); the sonnets of Shakespeare (especially "My mistress's eyes are nothing like the sun . . ."); Virgil's Aenied; the haiku of Ezra Pound; the poignant work of Sylvia Plath and the wonderfully whimsical nonsense poetry of Spike Milligan. My only regret is that in recent years I have neglected reading poetry in favour of reading prose.
John Kearney, UK

No coward soul is mine
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere
For I see Heaven's glories shine
And Faith shines equal, arming me from fear.

Emily Bronte
Michelle, USA

The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, by T S Eliot is by far the best poem I know. It is so many things all at once. It says so much about the world. I really just marvel at the genius of it.
W. Suleman, Sweden

John Betjeman's poems are the best. Everything else pales in comparison. My favourite is Executive. (I think that's the name).
Iain Nicholson, UK

My own favourite is this (and I admit I am biased!)

A Beach Poem

I see the blue sky and the blue green sea
I hear the waves crash together
I touch the golden sand and it runs through my toes
I taste the salty water in my mouth
I smell the salty sea
I feel the soft sand under my feet
I wish I could stay there for ever.

Written by my daughter at the age of 7.
Kathy Cameron, Scotland

Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" has always had a special place with me. It paints with words, defining the Impressionist movement long before it happened. The nearest visual thing I have seen is some of Turner's early work. Its grasp on the emotions is as tenacious as the greatest symphony. An allegory of life and death, the poem embraces hope, faith, despair and terror with equal facility. It is an incredible work of art that hurdles time with an easy contempt.
Tom, UK


Shelley's Ozymandias is a perfect, measured attack on the futility of absolutism

Paul Sutton, England
Rimbaud's Genie - amazing to think it was written in the 1870s. A beautiful invocation of the unattainable, a challenge that most poetry since has failed to live up to. Also Shelley's Ozymandias, which is a perfect, measured attack on the futility of absolutism. And Marvell's Bermudas, for its joy and sense of renewal.
Paul Sutton, England

Poetry in its best sense is a form of creativity with words, which is why I love the works of George Herbert so much. On a beautiful sunny morning three years ago, I went to Bemerton near Salisbury, where he once ministered as a simple country parson. What captivated me was a poem of his called The Flower, which I saw on a poster on the church wall. I remarked to one of the parishioners that, as the work of an inspired mind, it's as fresh as if it were written this morning!
Nigel Baldwin, UK

Not really a travel theme, but certainly relevant at the moment and a reminder of the personal devastation that war can bring. It is by E A Mackintosh and is called In Memoriam. It is relatively unknown, but it is the most moving poem I have ever read. The last three verses read: "You were only David's father, but I had fifty sons, when we went up in the evening under the arch of the guns, and we came back at twilight - O God! I heard them call, to me for help and pity that could not help at all. Oh never will I forget you my men that trusted me, more my sons than your fathers', for they could only see, the little helpless babies and the young men in their pride, they could not see you dying and hold you when you died. Happy and young and gallant, they saw their first born go, but not the strong limbs broken and the beautiful men brought low, the piteous writhing bodies, they screamed, don't leave me, Sir, for they were only your fathers but I was your officer." Worth reading the full five verses.
DJD, Cardiff

A poem I enjoy, which seems to have some significance is The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Especially the line "Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do and die". In the present times, it seems to fit our everyday situations.
Colin Bartlett, UK


"What if this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare" is a relevant phrase for today's world

Anthony, England
A poem is no use at all, a completely useless thing. It merely messes words around, to give a pleasant ring. However to be serious the lines, "What if this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare" is a relevant phrase for today's world, and a reminder that previous generations rushed about and missed the beauty of life as well.
Anthony, England

I've just remembered this short poem, don't know if this is the whole thing, or who wrote it, but it, to me, sums up the general feeling towards the US at the moment: Woodman, woodman, spare that tree, Touch not a single bough, For as a child it sheltered me And I'll protect it now
Tony Sorace, Grenada

I must say, The White Man's Burden by Kipling is my favourite poem. It's a sarcastic poem, while feigning support for Imperialism, it actually derides Imperialism.
Peter Bolton, UK/US

My favourite poem is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. Every person has that Road Not Taken in his/her life, at many a times in their lifetime. Its a tribute to every person's state of mind, when they have to make a difficult choice in life.
Sanjana Chavan, India

I'm the little boy that gives up his favourite teddy bear so that a stranger may be comforted. I'm the single mother who has been trying to teach her child to sleep in their own bed, who holds them tight long into the night, thanking God it wasn't her child that died. I'm the old man, angry and resentful that his military doesn't want him because of his age. I'm the teenage girl that spends hours cutting ribbons for others to wear as a symbol of remembrance. I'm the young man who doesn't understand why his father was running up the stairs as the building fell, trying to save just one more person, instead of saving himself.

I'm the old woman who will never see her grandchild again. I'm the little girl, playing with her doll, who can't understand when someone screams hateful things at her because of where her family is from. I'm the police officer, trying to keep reporters safe, when his wife is still among the missing. I'm the fire fighter that called in sick that day, only to discover that someone else died in his place. I'm the man who survived the falling building only to learn that his sister and baby niece were in the plane. I'm the secretary, angered by the seemingly callous response of those around her. I'm a spelunker, who is climbing down into the remains of a building, hoping to find someone still alive.

I'm the dog handler, searching for bodies, that has to comfort my animal when only death remains. I'm the woman who stands in line for five hours in order to give blood, hoping to help strangers in need. I'm the man who gets up and goes to work every day, in spite of the tragedy, because he still has a family to feed. I'm the first passenger to get back on a plane, even though I'm terrified, because I know somebody has to be first. I'm the soldier who is waiting on a ship, knowing that I may have to give my life for my nation's freedom. Who am I? I'm somebody special. I'm an American.
Agnes Morrison, USA


C P Cavafy's Ithaca - an invitation to voyage far and fear nothing

Gifford Maxim, Chicago USA
Ithaca by the Greek poet C P Cavafy. An invitation to voyage far and fear nothing, save the fear inside you that must be conquered.
Gifford Maxim, Chicago, USA

Robert Browning wrote a marvellous narrative poem about a man who simply "dropped out" and vanished into the crowds of the world. "What's become of Waring, since he gave us all the slip?" How many days have I dreamed of giving everyone and everything the slip.
Polly Mathers, USA

My favourite poem of all time is Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Not just because I can identify with every word as it describes the beauty of an evening quieted by snow, but the last verse: "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." I have quoted this to myself many a time when I felt the allure of something better than the present crisis, whatever that may have been. I once read a commentary made by Frost when asked what this poem really meant. He said he would not say. He said he was amazed that so many people had found various different meanings in his poem, that he did not want to somehow interfere with other people's interpretations by sharing his. I've got the entire poem memorised. Anybody want to hear it?
C, USA

Lepanto by G K Chesterton. It is a work that seethes with joyous optimism. Also, Choosing a Mast by Roy Campbell - a poet sadly neglected and underrated by contemporary critics.
Robert del Valle, USA

I've always loved Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Inspired by the diary of Marco Polo that was fashionable reading at the time (along with some other "inspiration"), it's a fantastically evocative vision of the mysterious beauty that must have truly astonished the famous traveller.
Lisa, UK

The most entertaining travel poem is The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll. I'd hunt a snark any day!
Ariel Norvald, US

One of my favourite poems is "Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas. It's a very uplifting and powerful piece.
Bruce Thomson, US

Some very expressive poetry was written during the First World War - poets like Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg. It works for me even now.
Peter, Europe

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