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How Do You Carry Yours?

How do you carry yours? | Gallery| People carrying poems

Carrying their poems: Nate carries 'snow falling'; Ali's wallet with her carry a poem choice; Lorraine Kelly wearing her poem as a brooch; and Joe carries T S Eliot as a tattoo.

Nate carries his poem on paper, Ali has one in her wallet, Lorraine pins hers to her jacket and Joe has a poetic tattoo.

Tell us your story, about the poem you carry and why it matters to you. Email carryapoem@cityofliterature.com and we’ll post your story on the blog, or leave a comment below to tell us how you carry a poem.

How Do You Carry Yours?

Peggy carries her poem in her purse. David keeps his on the fridge door, and Jane has hers off by heart.

Send us a picture of how you carry your poem, and keep up with the campaign gallery on Flickr – plenty of behind-the-scenes pics, as well as ways to carry poems.


1. Lauren Lochrie - Saturday, 13 March 2010

One night I couldn’t sleep, heres what I wrote…

Normality – everyday pollution – polluting everyday normally…
Convenient ignorance.
Considerably concerning, considering the concerned,
Overwhelmed by normality,
Is not always that.

Lauren Lochrie.

2. John Mallaghan - Friday, 5 March 2010

I keep many of my father’s poems on my MP3 player – originally recorded by him on an old cassette player before he died. You can read them all and listen to some on the web site I launched to mark the publication of my first book, inspired by and named after one of the poems – “The Knitter” – http://www.theknitterbook.com

The Knitter

Three nights it came in sleep, that vision clear
Three nights!, each ticking second seemed a year.
Three nights as she with silent needles plied
And wove a shapeless garment, rainbow pied.
“What knittest thou?”, but she, unheeding, heard
Nor lifted eye intent on ghostly cord.
Again, “What knittest?” as the words arose
On ashen lips, in fear the question froze.

Mine eyes beheld – or was it Devil’s ploy
With sleeping brain his unresisting toy.
Mine eyes beheld in stark sun-piercing light
The rubrics of Eternal’s timeless rite.
That forming robe was form’d not with fleece
Shorn from the lamb, symbolical to peace.
Lo! she, with some infernal magic rife,
Entwined her needles with my passing life.

John Mallaghan

3. Poetry in motion « The Lost Book - Friday, 26 February 2010

[…] (it’ll be available until the end of February) or take part by answering the question “how do you carry yours?“. Or, for BookCrossers, there’s a Carry a Poem bookring – sign up […]

4. Malcolm Denovan - Thursday, 25 February 2010

Poetry is something worth remembering. A good poem should be memorized and carried mentally, instantly available for recital. A poem the reader engages with requires little effort to memorize. x

5. Anne Hunter - Wednesday, 24 February 2010

I carry Brian Patten’s poem in my memory. It has always seemed like an eloquent description of how we toddle on.

One another’s light

It’s hard to guess what brought me here,
Away from where I’ve hardly ever been and now
Am never likely to go again.

Faces are lost, and places passed
At which I could have stopped
And stopping, been glad enough.

Some faces left a mark;
And I on them might have wrought
Some kind of charm or spell
To make their futures work,

But it’s hard to guess
How one thing on another
Works an influence.
We pass –
And lit briefly by one another’s light
Think the way we go is right.

Brian Patten

6. Tony - Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Self promotion, but might be of interest to poem-of-the-day types. I carry my poems in my pocket on my iPod, with the Poem Flow iphone app (http://poemflow.com/iPhoneApp). A new poem every day, shared simultaneously worldwide, and presented as a flowing animation.


7. Miss Edinburgh - Sunday, 21 February 2010

I carry mine on the cards from the library, but I carry them all around Scotland!

See where my cards have been this weekend



8. Robbie Handy - Sunday, 21 February 2010

There’s some lovely poems an stories here. Ah carry ma poem in ma wallet. Ah first found it in the lyrics tae a great song called ‘Book Of Rules’ on the album ‘Cool Rasta’ by the Heptones. When Ah hear the song, an read the poem it’s taken fae, it minds me tae forget aboot temporary struggles in life: Ah feel part o a bigger story than ma ain an Ah mind what Ah’m fightin for . It allows me tae feel a wee bit o transcendence : it’s ma wee Mount Zion moment .

‘A Bag Of Tools’ by RL Sharpe

‘Isn’t it strange
that princes and kings,
and clowns that caper
in sawdust rings,
and common people
like you and me
are builders for eternity?

Each is given a bag of tools,
a shapeless mass,
a book of rules:
and each must make-
ere life is flown-
a stumbling block
or a steppingstone.’

9. I carry poems « Honest Speaks - Sunday, 21 February 2010

[…] carry poems I have been over at Carry a Poem , reading about how people carry poems with them.  I especially like Katie’s post (from 5th February), the line: ‘And I am […]

10. honestspeaks - Sunday, 21 February 2010

I’ve enjoyed reading all these poems for a little while now, and thought it was about time I posted something myself…

I carry so many poems that I am having a ‘carry a poem’ week over on twitter (@honestlyspeakin)! But first, here’s the poem I’ve carried so long I feel like I’ve always known it (from William Blake’s ‘Augeries of Innocence):

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

…and here’s how I carry the poems I write:

I carry poems

I carry poems with me
Many different ones each day
I keep them in my head and heart
And collect more along my way

My heart is always full to bursting
But there’ll always be more space
For the poetry I see daily
In all kinds of places and on so many faces

I add more poems as I see them
And I see them all the time
I take mental snapshots of moments
Wrap them in words to make them mine

I carry the man outside the supermarket with a sleeping bag over his head
I carry the words I’ve still to let go of, those that made me see red
I carry his frown lines
I carry her smile
I carry his laughter
I carry your sense of style

I carry the words that lie beneath those that you use
I carry your pain
I carry my muse

I carry all this and more
All of the time
Then give birth to new poems
And hope you might carry mine.

11. Margaret Orleans - Sunday, 21 February 2010

I carry some poems on my lips, in melody. In high school chorus I learned Christina Rossetti’s “Who Has Seen the Wind?” Years later, when I taught students in the American Midwest who had never seen an ocean or a forest or a mountain, it proved to be a poem to which they readily responded. For EFL students in China and Japan, too, the simple vocabulary and repetition make it an appropriate first poem in English.

Who Has Seen the Wind?

by Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

12. neil allan - Friday, 19 February 2010

here’s my poem i wrote to put in my pocket:↲When i was a fisherman↲I would find the most secret of coves↲Set the most cunning of traps↲Appreciate the beauty of my prey↲Then let them free

13. Shona Macdonald - Friday, 12 February 2010

Thank you, everyone, for all of these!
I started collecting poems when I was in need of something other, and I still am.
I have too many to write but here are two short ones:

This is just to say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

by William Carlos Williams

“A man said to the universe”

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

by Stephen Crane

14. Hanna - Friday, 12 February 2010

I know this one off by heart so I always have it, although it’s also pinned to the wall beside my sink. I knit a lot, and I often think of it when I’m knitting because it captures so perfectly the warm, nurturing creativity of making a garment slowly, laboriously, lovingly. I encountered it on a Scottish Poetry Library postcard that my mother sent to me when I was living abroad, so it has sentimental value as well; my mother knits too, so it was a lovely reminder of home, family and Edinburgh when I was far away.

in hospital (or maybe The Future? not sure about the title) by Tom Leonard

I like seeing nurse frieda knitting
as I like watching my wife knitting
as I liked watching my mother knitting
though she was more of a dabber
(plain and purl, plain and purl)

it’s not
“women being in their place”
or knitting the chains that keep them down


the future, knitting the future
the present peaceful, quiet
as if

the same woman knitting
for a thousand years

15. Martin Bell - Wednesday, 10 February 2010

About 20 years ago, I picked up an Ian Hamilton Finlay postcard at the Fruitmarket Gallery. It awakened in me a love of his work that continues to grow as the years go by. I have kept it with me since then and it has been pinned on the walls of various student flats in Edinburgh and then a couple of apartments in Brussels when I lived there. I’ve now framed it. Hopefully my kids will come up with their own interpretations of what it means to them over the coming years.

White script on a light blue background, it says simply:



I was surprised, but pleased, to find it on page 482 of ‘The New Penguin Book of Scottish Verse’.

I always get a tremendous sense of peace when I read it. In a world where the pace of change continues to accelerate, it reminds me that there are some things that remain relatively constant, that keeping a sense of perspective is important, that we can still find serenity if we look for it. I’m transported to the herring fishing communities of Caithness, immortalised in Neil Gunn’s ‘The Silver Darlings’, or the deserted beaches of the Inner Hebrides of my childhood holidays when the sun always shone, to gentle waves lapping on the shore at a beach in East Lothian or Aberdour’s Silver Sands.

And it makes me happy.

16. Tamara Mulherin - Sunday, 7 February 2010

As an Aussie only having lived in Edinburgh for 2 years, I was quite taken aback by the place of poetry in daily life. When I read Alastair Reid’s poem, Scotland, I felt it gave me a small insight into the character of Scotland. I realise the second part of the poem is acerbic in nature but the first part captures the sense of place and describes in such beauty the overwhelming sensory impact of Scotland’s greenness. Having come from such a dry & hot place, this poem really effected me, so much so that I’ve created a leather book cover and using pyrography, inscribed the 1st part of the poem onto the cover. So I carry this poem with me everyday as I’ve wrapped it around my note book. It reminds me of how beautiful Scotland is and how much I enjoy living in this amazing place.

It was a day peculiar to this piece of the planet,
when larks rose on long thin strings of singing
and the air shifted with the shimmer of actual angels.
Greenness entered the body. The grasses
shivered with presences, and sunlight
stayed like a halo on hair and heather and hills.
Walking into town, I saw, in a radiant raincoat,
the woman from the fish-shop. ‘What a day it is!’
cried I, like a sunstruck madman.
And what did she have to say for it?
Her brow grew bleak, her ancestors raged in their graves
as she spoke with their ancient misery:
‘We’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it, we’ll pay for it!’

17. Catherine Monelle, on behalf of Raymond Monelle - Sunday, 7 February 2010

Raymond Monelle is my father. At the moment, he is very ill, in a hospice. He is carrying his pinned to the locker next to his bed. It’s by A E Housman.

From far, from eve and morning
And yon twelve-winded sky,
The stuff of life to knit me
Blew hither: here am I.

Now — for a breath I tarry
Nor yet disperse apart —
Take my hand quick and tell me,
What have you in your heart.

Speak now, and I will answer;
How shall I help you, say;
Ere to the wind’s twelve quarters
I take my endless way.

18. Katie - Friday, 5 February 2010

There’s a poem I discovered once, I can’t remember where, nor can I remember who it’s by, but I can say without doubt that the poem changed me. I’ve kept it close to my heart and in the back of my mind, pasted it to my bedroom walls and recited it to loved ones, and will continue to do so until my dying day:

I have set those free, who I do not need,
in order to get a tighter grasp on those I do.
I have gone down roads without destinations,
to accidentally stumble upon heaven, and bits of hell.
Miles of concrete gobbled up by underbellies of cold machines,
and at my lowest points, I have counted my blessings.

I am okay with loss now.
I am okay with picking up the pieces.
And I am definitely okay with trying.

Minutes and hours have passed where I’ve felt nothing but content inside this heart,
and in that,
I am okay with crossing out calendar days which held moments of despair.
Because I have realised:
After the storms have passed, and the earth is busy dissolving the aftermath,
darkness falls, and in the mean-time,
the sun will always peak over the horizon.
I will have a child’s eyes, seeing everything for the first time,
and everything will be beautiful again.

19. Paul Badger - Friday, 5 February 2010

What a great campaign!

I carry poems round on my iPod – Dylan Thomas reading his own, Richard Burton reading Dylan Thomas, and of course, Richard Burton in Under Milk Wood…

I’m a poet and if anyone wants to carry my own poems around on their iPod for free, then you can find my free downloads on iTunes at http://bit.ly/90bXWG


20. sarah george - Friday, 5 February 2010

I carry mine in my ipod

21. Catherine Monelle - Thursday, 4 February 2010

Henley’s Invictus might not be a work of literary genius, and it might have appeared on lots of walls, but when times are tough, it’s the poem in my head that helps me remember I’m going to make it to the other side.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow’d.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

22. Amruta Damle - Thursday, 4 February 2010

The Sculptor And The Sculpted

When the sculptor sculpted,
Both were hurt.
By the sharp chisel,
That marked the birth.
The birth of a sculptor,
And a shape.
The commencement of a journey,
Towards progress…

This poem I wrote defines the delicate relationship between the creator and the created. Both are the ‘giver’ and the ‘taker’. Both learning during the process of creation…

I carry this poem with me, always

23. Betsy Barker - Thursday, 4 February 2010

A wonderful child wrote this to me on the day before she moved off to another school……it always cheers me up when I read it on my kitchen wall with the wee picture she drew to accompany it….and I carry it in ma heid!

“Ms Barker is pretty,
Ms Barker is cool.
Ms Barker is musical,
Her jumper’s made of wool!”

24. Ajit Dongre - Thursday, 4 February 2010

I carry mine on my network drive. 😉

Where I found it today, searching for something else. A poem penned 40 years ago, commemorating the death of a warrior for peace, Bertrand Russell.

A bit obtuse — which can nicely pass for profundity!

The Damned Dove

Like a god he came, burning,
‘Mongst pettier gods, it might be confessed,
And blazed his destroying, creative trail
Through 1080 protons, w/ or w/o e-s, damned or blest.

Questions he raised questing Questors
The futile Fathers they all did fail
Fearful, answering, “Does he (the Lord), or doesn’t he?”
A matter only a barber(ian?) could tell.

The Perpetrator of Incongruity (for he was no da Vinci),
This Master of Theory, this pundit of the West,
Half his hundred years he warred against war
And gave us eyes and told us to do all that’s best.

25. cecelia - Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Ive carried this one in my head and written it in every journal, diary and empty space since my teens. A dear friend taught it to me to help me through a traumatic experience, and it stills helps me along.

Life is mainly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another trouble,
Courage in your own.

26. Amruta Damle - Wednesday, 3 February 2010

This poem I wrote, speaks of the Amer Fort in Jaipur, Rajasthan. I carry this poem in my soul as a constant reminder of the rich heritage and spectacular history of India.

When Silence Spoke

In the midst of tested walls,
The palaces and halls,
The pillars, the mirrors
Silence spoke…

Silence spoke of…
Bloodshed and warriors
Treason and trechory
Graceful pieces of metal in battle

Silence spoke of…
Sun kissed windows and crisp morning air
Romances of the brave and the fair
Enticing pieces of jewels that sat on their skin

Silence spoke of…
Dancing, laughter, wailing,
Sacrifice and victory
Of Life in a time gone by

When Silence spoke…
Amer came alive

27. Amruta Damle - Wednesday, 3 February 2010

I carry this poem I wrote, in my heart. The realisation of the earth and the “self” being one, is immense. Both going through similar cycles in their journey callled ‘life’… The poem highlights the eternity, the oneness and the struggles of the earth and the ‘self’.

I watched you from a distance…

I saw your whole.
The graceful motion of your body,
Giving rise to night and day.
How long have you been here?
Are you here to stay?

The different hues dotting you skin,
The brown, the blue, and the green,
Seem divided, only to merge in.
Calm on the surface,
And turmoil within

I saw your whole.
You stand in the company of others,
And yet alone.
Scarred by battle for boundaries,
Who fights for your propriety?
Can you be owned?

Are you forgiving or revengeful
Adapting or resisting
Are you all encompassing,
Will I understand you?

Watched you from a distance.
I saw your whole.
All this while..
Was it you I saw, or was it “I”?

28. Maggie Fuge - Friday, 29 January 2010

This is from one of my favourite song lyrics from Karine Polwart, who in my opinion is a true wordsmith. This song I first heard whilst listening to my ipod in a tent in Peru (my son had bought it and filled it with songs he thought I would enjoy, whilst on expedition with World Challenge). It touched me in quite a profound way, it seemed to me to sum up what Skye was like, I was obviously missing home and family and was much more susceptible but none the less affected.
So when I returned I used it along with some Burns quotes to see what my Int 2 class thought of the comparison with “Old Scots” and up to date words which summed up Scotland’s weather… It was a comment from one of my pupils who said that “he thought that Karine’s words were a poem”.

So long may you sing of the salmon
and the snow scented sounds of your home
while the north wind delivers its sermon
of ice and salt water and stone.

29. Lucy Heaney - Friday, 29 January 2010

My Mum started the tradition of giving my sister and I silver bracelets with engraving on them to remember important moments in our lives. I have five which I wear on my left wrist, my favourite of which is the bracelet which holds e.e. cummings’ words “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)”
I know that no matter where I am in the world, no matter what happens, I will have my Mum with me helping me through it. It helps me never to feel alone.

30. MadCat Marion - Thursday, 28 January 2010

I particularly carry two words of Roger McGough’s: “cross porpoises”.

31. naydinek - Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I carry the last part of “I carry your heart with me” by e.e. cummings handwritten on the back of a pic I cherish in my purse. Every person interprets a poem the way he/she carries it in his/her own heart. Every time I miss my love, I reach out for this last part; e.e.cummings’ wording is so delicate that you could almost feel him carrying a small heart in his hands; and then you can’t help but fall in love with his finale

“i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”

Simply the most beautiful expressive metaphor of love in the world …

“…here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)”

32. Skyla - Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Ever since I first read it in English class at school, I have been carrying in my head the passage from Macbeth about tomorrow. I used to be able to recite it all, but now I only recall the first three lines. They always come to mind at the end of a long, hard day, when I look at my worries through the mirror of the world and remind myself not to take things so seriously. The context is a bit depressing, but I actually find comfort in the fact that I can blow my worries out like a candle. That there is a tomorrow and that all the strutting and fretting is of no use.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

33. ivoryfishbone - Sunday, 24 January 2010

I carry mine in my head – Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock – it’s been lodged there, immoveable since 1990.
Lines occur so many times, as if in answer to life things. They just surface, as though Eliot is under there in my deep mind waiting for an opportunity to comment …

“That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?

And would it have been worth it, after all

It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?

34. H. - Friday, 22 January 2010

I have one on my iPod as a start of one song. The lines are from the poem by W. H. Auden “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone” which is a very sad yet endearing poem for me as it reminds me of my good friend who is no more.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

Another couple of poems I carry with me are from the books of “Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien. The first one here is written on a piece of paper and is in my wallet.

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

This one I cite often in my head:

The Riddle of Strider

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

And, for the end, I sometimes carry pieces of poems on paper of sheet. That is when I written some e.g the inspiration comes 🙂 So, a lot of poems to carry but luckily poems are light!

35. Rachel Cowan - Thursday, 21 January 2010

I used to be able to memorise poetry well, so carried my favourites around in my head. But encroaching age has put paid to that and out of 4 favourites, only 2 remain in the old brain cells. All proclaim that I am an unashamed sentimentalist. Ralph Hodgson’s ‘The Bells of Heaven’ is tucked away in my head and despite its Victorian imagery, seems to me as relevant today as it was then. From memory then…

‘Twould ring the bells of heaven
the wildest peal for years
if parson lost his senses
and people came to theirs
and he and they together
knelt down with humble prayers
for wretched, blind pit ponies
and little hunted hares
for tamed and shabby tigers
and dancing dogs and bears

36. Philippa - Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The poem I carry around with me has been in my head since I was about 8, thanks to my Granny. All of the women in my family have always been great ones for reciting poetry – my aunt still makes her living teaching poetry recitation. But it was my Granny who first started teaching me poems. She favoured the dramatic – poems that told spooky stories – things like The Listeners and The Highwayman. But the one that I can still recite all of is The Sands of Dee by Charles Kingsley;

O MARY, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
Across the sands of Dee!”
The western wind was wild and dank with foam,
And all alone went she.

The western tide crept up along the sand,
And o’er and o’er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see.
The rolling mist came down and hid the land–
And never home came she.

“Oh! is it weed, or fish, or floating hair–
A tress of golden hair,
A drownèd maiden’s hair
Above the nets at sea?
Was never salmon yet that shone so fair
Among the stakes on Dee.”

They rowed her in across the rolling foam,
The cruel crawling foam,
The cruel hungry foam,
To her grave beside the sea;
But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home
Across the sands of Dee

Now, its not the greatest poem ever written, its not even my favourite, but I will remember it for the whole of my life. And it is great for reciting to unsuspecting people at parties!

37. Marsha Howard - Monday, 18 January 2010

I used to carry E.E. Cummings’ poem “somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond any experience,your eyes have their silence…” in its entirety, in my head. Alas, I’ve lost bits of it. That brings to mind the fact that I also carried Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art” in its entirety. Bits are gone but since “The art of losing isn’t hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster…” I don’t feel so badly about the loss of some of Cummings. After all, I am comforted by what I do recall and can always look them up. Similarly I have lost a few bits of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73, “That time of year thou mayst in me behold/When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang/Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,/Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.” I think that last may explain something about my problem. Still, as I said, better to have those pieces than no poetry at all!

38. Claire Stewart - Monday, 18 January 2010

I carry a poem on me at all times – in my mp3 player – and when I don’t have that on me, it’s usually rattling around in my head anyway- because it’s so damned catchy!
The poem is ‘The Lobster Quadrille’ from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and the reason why it’s in my mp3 player is because it has been set to music by the wonderfully eccentric and fabulous Neil Ardley, British Jazz polymath extraordinaire. Apart from being a fantastic arrangement dashingly performed by some of the UK’s finest jazz musicians, the words are a celebration of British manners, eccentricity and the absurd.
I will never get tired of it and it is also handy to have in your arsenal of tunes in case you have to walk somewhere quickly, it really spurs you on and you can hardly fail to have a smile on your face when listening to it.
Essential poetry for your pocket.

The Lobster Quadrille

“Will you walk a little faster?” said a whiting to a snail,
“There’s a porpoise close behind us, and he’s treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle – will you come and join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you,
will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you,
won’t you join the dance?”

“You can really have no notion how delightful it would be
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters out to sea!”
But the snail replied “Too far, too far!”, and gave a look askance –
Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.

“What matters it how far we go?” his scaly friend replied.
“There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
The farther off from England the nearer is to France –
Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you,
will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you,
won’t you join the dance?”

From Chapter 10 of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll

39. Sheenagh Pugh - Monday, 18 January 2010

I carry “They flee from me that some time did me seek” in my head, and have done since I first read it at the age of twelve; it’s unforgettable. Also A D Mackie’s “The Mole-Catcher” and Paul Muldoon’s “Meeting the British”.

40. KW - Friday, 15 January 2010

For Jenny Goldsmith, comment no. 8 – I think your poem is “Bedtime Stories” by Lilian Moore 🙂

41. Pippa - Thursday, 14 January 2010

I saw a guy called Rob Evans perform his poetry at Stanza a few years back and his delivery was brilliant – really got it across. I was blown away by his life stories, frankness and dry humour. I picked up his first collection Snake’s Kin (my first collection too) and have enjoyed it ever since. I carry one of them saved on my phone:

On Being Heckled With The Question,
“Why Are You Such a Miserable Bastard?”

I’m fifty-four years old
and in my life
I’ve lost a father, two faithful dogs,
one not-so-faithful wife
and, on top of all that
I’ve had cancer
twice. So there’ your answer;
that’s why this miserable bastard’s
on the loose.
Now tell me, sunshine,
what’s your f****** excuse?


42. Lady P - Wednesday, 13 January 2010

I have a little clutch of beautiful poems, which carry me through difficult, thoughtful times – but… and I realise this is stretching the concept – nothing makes me laugh more than the limerick my Dad taught me when I was little – it works every time!

The boy stood on the burning deck,
His feet were full of blisters,
The flames came up and burned his pants,
and now he wears his sisters.

43. Tricia Gray - Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Auguries of Innocence

‘Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.’

I think of that poem when I see Darfur on the news etc., gamblers in Vegas on TV, when I was on the Make Poverty History march……. it’s so appropriate for so many reasons. I have copied that part, printed it and put it in a small frame in my loo with an aimage of a new born baby. It does not just relate to material welath and poverty, I feel it relates to human relationships as well eg Fred and Rose West’s children. It’s very difficult to write such wonderful poetry but some people like Bob Dylan make it look so easy with his one man prolific word factory.

44. Monseigneur D Gilchrist - Tuesday, 12 January 2010

I carry this in my heart and on a scrap of Christmas wrapping signed by Loggins himself…

Revvin’ up your engine
Listen to her howlin’ roar
Metal under tension
Beggin’ you to touch and go
Highway to the Danger Zone
Ride into the Danger Zone
Headin’ into twilight
Spreadin’ out her wings tonight
She got you jumpin’ off the track
And shovin’ into overdrive
Highway to the Danger Zone
I’ll take you
Right into the Danger Zone
You’ll never say hello to you
Until you get it on the red line overload
You’ll never know what you can do
Until you get it up as high as you can go
Out along the edges
Always where I burn to be
The further on the edge
The hotter the intensity
Highway to the Danger Zone
Gonna take you
Right into the Danger Zone
Highway to the Danger Zone

45. Sandy Dundas - Tuesday, 12 January 2010

I carry the poem The Dead by Billy Collins in my heart. A good friend gave me a copy of it, and I find it so calming and comforting when thinking of the recent passing away of loved ones.

The dead are always looking down on us, they say,
while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
they are looking down through the glass-bottom boats of heaven
as they row themselves slowly through eternity.

They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,
and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
drugged perhaps by the hum of a warm afternoon,
they think we are looking back at them,

which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.

46. Gwenda Adams Ward - Tuesday, 12 January 2010

I carry the poem “Barter” by Sara Teasdale in my heart. I was first exposed to it as a 13 year old and it has stayed with me ever since. I especially like the lines “Life has loveliness to sell / Music like a curve of gold” and later, “And for your spirit’s still delight / Holy thoughts that fill the night.” It reminds me of all the wonders and glories of life well lived or simply enjoyed.

47. Andy Pitts - Friday, 8 January 2010

I’ve carried this poem about with me ever since I stopped being a ‘young’ man – A Kumquat for John Keats by Tony Harrison.
I’m rarely far away from a copy of it and though it’s a couple of pages long, most of it’s lodged in my head anyway.
It’s about what counts to make a ‘full life’ – that experience has to be both bitter and sweet. In it he remembers eating kumquats one morning “whole, straight off the tree, sweet pulp and sour skin – or was it sweet outside, and sour within?” and then suggests “the flesh, the juice, the pith, the pips, the peel / that this is how a full life ought to feel”.
I’ve come to think of it like a hip flask I can take a nip from whenever I need a pick-me-up. It soars onwards and upwards in heroic couplets that you just have to read out loud – Harrison laughed once in fact when I told him that I couldn’t read it without standing up. But you can’t – it’s poetic HRT.

48. Jenny Goldsmith - Wednesday, 6 January 2010

There is one simple little poem I have carried for ages. Cut out of a magazine, stuck into a scrapbook. Then I chucked the whole scrapbook but saved the page where it was pasted…that made its way into another scrapbook.

Occasionally I find it in its bookshelf by chance or attempted clear out and I re-read it. Sometimes it even falls helpfully out of its scrapbook and lies on the carpet right side up as if it wants to be read.

Its not particularly great or profound literature but it makes me happy every time I read it over a period of over 20 years. And that’s worth carrying for me.

Here it is. I hope you enjoy it too.

‘Tell me a story,’

Says Witch’s child,

‘About the Beast

So fierce and wild.

About a Ghost

That shrieks and groans,

A Skeleton

That rattles bones,

About a Monster


Something nice

To make me sleepy.’

PS If anyone knows who wrote this, that would be nice to know.

49. Peter Mitchell McCulloch - Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I carry this wee poem in my head that draws from my heart.


Silent…calm…passing away,
Thee bonny Emerald Finch,
Thy tiny tousled feathers,
Defiled…by feline clinch.

In my hand no bid to stir,
Thine wee bit frame or feather,
Thy tiny eyes as if asleep,
Closed…sealed for ever.

As nature’s Crimson flow of life
Ebbs from beak and breast,
No more for you the misery
Fly tiny bird…
Seek a place to rest.

Poet Peter M McCulloch

50. Sara Sheridan - Monday, 21 December 2009

I keep Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 on my desktop. Poetry is wordpower at its purest – reading it is like taking a very strong shot of coffee before I start writing.

51. Carry a Poem « The Lost Book - Wednesday, 9 December 2009

[…] You don’t have to be in Edinburgh to take part. Simply get in touch with your answer to the question “How do you carry yours?” […]

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