Friday, May 12, 2006

Poetry and Me


On the Poetry Thursday site, we were propmted to explain how we discovered poetry. I have been thinking about that, and realised there was way more than would fit in any one post.
It starts really, from birth. It starts with nursery rhymes, and hymns and metrical psalms sung in church. My relationship to poetry is tied up with my relationship to words and to books. And that started before I could read. It started with my brother and I pulling all the books from the bookcase and using them to build roads around the room. We had few toys, so the cars we pushed round the roads were purely imaginary. But then, the imaginary is important in poetry. And I learned even then that words made highways.
It started also, with being read to while I sat on my mother's knee. It started with one particular book that I still remember. It was called "Look, Mummy". It was not a great work of children's literature, but it was very repetitive. It had photos of children engaged in various activities, and it had captions like "Look Mummy, I can ride my big red trike". So one day when I was three, I started pointing to the words and saying "That's can, that's my, that's I". And that is how I learned to read.
Back then, I knew that rhymes could be songs, or poems, depending on whether they had music to them. But my first real poetry book was a gift from an enlightened parent (I can't remember which one) when I was about six years old. It was "The Golden Book of Poetry". I can remember now, two of the poems in it. One was "Wynken, Blynken and Nod" and the other was "The Tale of Custard the Dragon" by Ogden Nash. You can find the text here. I was delighted recently to purchase "The Norton Anthology of Poetic Form" and discover that it included "Custard the Dragon" in its discussion of the ballad. What better recommendation for a poetry book, than that it include my first favourite poem?
The photo of course, is me as a small child.

6 comments:

kenju said...

Catherine, Michele sent me tonight. I also loved Wynken, Blinken and Nod as a child. I think that must have been my first look at poetry. I studied it in college and have loved it ever since.

kenju said...

HA! Well, here I am again, also via Michele. You were very cute in that photo!

Robin said...

I started reading around 3, too...repetition is really the key! I remember that I just loved one book, Sam the Fire Cat, and my grandmother or grandfather would read it over and over and over whenever I asked. Eventually, of course, I memorized it and read it on my own. I was sitting in a time out one afternoon and picked up another book that was left behind on the floor and started flipping through it and realized that I could read this one, too! What an amazing discovery! My parents got me a great poetry anthology, too. That thing was the most dog eared book in my collection. I nearly carried it off with me when I moved out at 20; Thank god, I didn't...or I wouldn't still have it!

I am here from Michele's today...hope you have a great weekend!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Darling photograph and a very interesting rememberence, too!

liz elayne said...

Thank you for sharing this...love this glimpse into the poetry of your childhood...

AscenderRisesAbove said...

What a cute little photo... It looks like someone hand made that little sweater set for you. very cute