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Shredded Keats

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Shredded Keats | story.one

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

KEATS

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..

Con-dit-ion-ed reflex!”

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

Chris Wright

2022

see for yourself …

To Autumn by John Keats | Poetry Foundation

© Chris Wright 2022-11-21

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