I’m not really a poetry person which is ironic because I have an exercise book filled with poems I wrote as a teenager( no, it wasn’t Of ‘Roses are red, violets are blue’ orientation, was some serious stuff)and I have a first degree in Literature.
For those who may not know, studying Literature involves a semester of at least 30 books, not counting lengthy plays like Wole Soyinka’s ‘The Bacchae of Euripides’ and learning the at least 20 poems including Ullyses, The Rape of Lock and ‘ The Rime of the ancient Mariner’- mostly pieces that were out of print so you had to lay siege at the Library with spy skills that would put Sherlock Holmes to shame.
Even after four years of that poetry is not my thing but there are four pieces that touch me and yes, I like.
- 1. A telephone conversation by Wole Soyinka
- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- When you have forgotten Sunday by Gwendolyn Brooks
- My personal favourite, ‘If’ by Rudiyard Kipling which I will share.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Now, do you see why I choose ‘ If’?