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Jenny’s Story: Alexander Gray’s ‘Scotland’ Monday, 25 January 2010

Posted by edincityoflit in Stories.
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How can I nominate just one favourite poem?  It depends on my mood.  Norman MacCaig, Robert Burns (especially Tam O’Shanter for a fine narrative poem), Iain Crichton Smith, John Betjeman, even a 4-liner I wrote for my children about warthogs, might all feature.  And where do I keep them?  Some in my head, some in my heart, some in my book shelves, some on my e-book reader.

If I can’t even have two, then I’ll discard Hugh MacDiarmid’s, “… little white rose of Scotland/That smells sharp and sweet – and breaks the heart.”. I’ll plump, not for the more commonly quoted fourth stanza, “This is my country,/The land that begat me. . .”, but for the evocative first verse of Alexander Gray’s ‘Scotland’, that always reminded me of home in the equally unforgiving parched landscape around me during my years in Africa:

Here in the Uplands

The soil is ungrateful;

The fields, red with sorrel,

Are stony and bare.

A few trees, wind-twisted –

Or are they but bushes? –

Stand stubbornly guarding

A home here and there.

Jenny Dawe is the Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council.

BIOGRAPHY – JOHN BETJEMAN Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Posted by edincityoflit in Poets.
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John Betjeman was born in north London in 1906. He attended Oxford University, but was sent down for failing his exams. He found work as a freelance journalist and broadcaster and published wry, comic poetry on the side.

Betjeman’s poetry soon developed a loyal following and his Collected Poems, published in 1958, became a bestseller. Betjeman was appointed England’s Poet Laureate in 1972 and his popularity grew even more. He died in 1984 at his house in Cornwall.

Richard’s stories Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Posted by carryapoem in Stories.
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I like carrying poems by different poets in my head for different moods, including (to simplify greatly): Donne for sex; Tennyson for beautiful lines and melancholy; Housman for more melancholy; Auden for thought; Burns for humour and humanity; T S Eliot for elegant precision; Wilfred Owen for empathy; Betjeman for the sense of belonging to a place; Kipling for daring to be different; Wendy Cope for her barbs of satire… That’s probably enough to be going on with 🙂