Celebrating the UK’s National Poetry Day, here are a few poems from our favorite poets:
Walking around in the park
Should feel better than work:
The lake, the sunshine,
The grass to lie on,
Blurred playground noises
Beyond black-stockinged nurses—
Not a bad place to be.
Yet it doesn’t suit me,
— Toads Revisited by Philip Larkin
Bobby Breen’s. His Boston fireman’s gift
With BREEN in scarlet lacquer on its spread
Tinctures of sweat and hair oil
In the withered sponge and shock-absorbing webs
Beneath the crown—
Or better say the crest, for crest it is—
Steel ridge, leather-trimmed, hand-tooled, hand-sewn,
Tipped with a little clasp of beaten copper…
— Helmet by Seamus Heaney
Drop into it.
Noise so clamorous it sucks.
You rush your pressed-flower hackles out
To the perimeter.
And here it comes:
That unpremeditated joy as you
—The Uzi shuddering warm against your hip
Happy in danger in a dangerous place
Yourself another self you found at Troy—
Squeeze nickel through that rush of Greekoid scum!
— From ‘All Day Permanent Red: the First Battle Scenes of Homer’s Iliad Rewritten’ by Christopher Logue
Photo: Louis MacNeice (far left) with Ted Hughes, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, and Stephen Spender at a Faber and Faber cocktail party, 1960 (Mark Gerson)