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Wednesday, 23 January 2019


Recently, I turned 65. Without explanation, here are 65 first lines from poems that have been and maybe still are important to my life. I have enjoyed poetry very much and continue to do so. I have had a crack at writing poems. It's not that easy. There are more than 65 first lines, of course, but 65 is the number of the moment.

In no particular order:

All the world's a stage..... (William Shakespeare)
In Manchester there are a thousand puddles..... (Adrian Mitchell)
Old age is not my problem. Bad health, yes. (Clive James)
He thought he saw an elephant..... (Lewis Carroll)
My father played the melodeon..... (Patrick Kavanagh)
Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw..... (T. S. Eliot)
Black lake, black boat, two black, cut-paper people..... (Sylvia Plath)
As I walked out one evening....... (W. H. Auden)
There was a boy whose name was Jim..... (Hillaire Belloc)
My father's in my fingers but my mother's in my palms..... (Sinead Morrissey)

Half a league, half a league, half a league onward..... (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
When I see birches bend to left and right..... (Robert Frost)
Before I knocked and flash let enter..... (Dylan Thomas)
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright..... (William Blake)
Glory be to God for dappled things..... Gerard Manley Hopkins
I wandered lonely as a cloud..... (William Wordsworth)
Earth has not anything to show more fair..... (William Wordsworth)
It is an ancient Mariner..... (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
The lords of life the lords of life..... (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
When I put my finger to the hole they've cut for a dimmer switch..... (Paul Muldoon)

The mountain sheep are sweeter..... (Thomas Love Peacock)
The King sits in Dunfermline town...... (Anon, I think)
The old priest Peter Gilligan was weary night and day..... (William Butler Yeats)
I sat all morning in the college sick bay..... (Seamus Heaney)
Tell me, O Octopus, I begs..... (Ogden Nash)
It's awf'lly bad luck on Diana..... (John Betjeman)
Stasis in darkness..... (Sylvia Plath)
Midway upon the journey of our life..... (Edgar Allan Poe)
If you can keep your head when all about you..... (Rudyard Kipling)
Much have I travelled in the realms of gold..... (John Keats)

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan..... (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..... (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
Do not go gentle into that good night..... (Dylan Thomas)
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? ..... (William Shakespeare)
She walks in beauty, like the night..... (Lord Byron)
The free bird leaps on the back of the wind..... (Maya Angelou)
I will arise and go now, and go to Inishfree..... (William Butler Yeats)
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day..... (Thomas Grey)
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone..... (W. H. Auden)
Hail to thee blithe spirit..... (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness..... (Allen Ginsberg)
Between my finger and thumb the squat pen rests..... (Seamus Heaney)
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks..... (Wilfrid Owen)
Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode..... (G. K. Chesterton)
Therefore he no more troubled the pool of silence..... (George Mackay Brown)
Don't talk to me of love. I've had an earful..... (James Fenton)
How far? How far is it to Carcassone? ..... (John Fuller)
My mother's car is parked in the gravel..... (Leontia Flynn)
Some painters leave shadow out. The Master hunts it..... (U. A. Fanthorpe)
These two hands that never did a day's work..... (Damian Smyth)

When I was a child I sat an exam..... (Brian Patten)
Since the primary school is next door..... (D. J. Enright)
Remember me when I am gone away..... Christina Rossetti
The lough will claim a victim every year..... (Seamus Heaney)
After the battle of the Incriminating Loveletter..... (Roger McGough)
There's a feather on my pillow...... (Max Porter)
One wet, early evening in the sheep-shearing season..... (Hugh MacDiarmid)
If I was dead and my bones adrift..... (Carol Ann Duffy)
Your Daddy is a soldier son..... (Kate Tempest)
I have been thinking about the music for my funeral..... (Michael Longley)

Long live the child..... (Adrian Mitchell)
I love all films that start with rain..... (Don Paterson)
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees..... (Alfred Noyes)
From time to time our love is like a sail..... (Alice Oswald)
A small piece of white paper, coarse-cut..... (Joe Cushnan - well?)

Another surface barely scratched!

(See previous two posts for 65 films and 65 musical choices)

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