Who hasn't tried to learn a poem but not many are still
trying and failing after 45 years!
“Why do we have to learn this Mr Mills”
then to be examined in the gymnasium
with the 5th formers sitting their O-levels
Now I look back and see this as the start of affection for poetry
Ode to Autumn
English teachers come and go
Mr Mills came and went too
PG Wodehouse with a nose like a beef tomato
“Wright why are you shouting?
I'll tell you why..
it's Fruit of Activity with Songs
three stanzas taking me a lifetime to learn
the first is a cornucopia of beautiful images and fruit
and finally, the wonderful bees you dream about and never forget
the second you fall for a beautiful woman
part Kate Bush part Egyptian queen part harvest goddess
stanza 3 is cacophony: Swallows and lambs and Robins and crickets and gnats
These last noisy vectors I stole for one of my hymns to theencroaching seas
Why can't I learn that last verse?
is it that I'm not interested?
My teacher didn’t ask nicely
Learnt, the words become you
You love me love her love
The great mother
Are we so estranged from John Keats’ world of nature that
we can't see the woods or the trees
we can't see the cottages surrounded by ripe apple orchards
and bees grown fat on the last rose blooms
or can't hear the redbreast nor the treble soft
every year I give myself the whole of autumn to learn
that final verse which softens the hibernal blow
Of cold, early, scarified winter
every year a few lines closer wish me luck
my dear writer friends
my plus, my minus and my equals
see for yourself …
To Autumn by John Keats | Poetry Foundation
© Chris Wright 2022-11-21