Bookshelf Travelling: Poetry

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness hosts this meme – Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times.  I am enjoying this meme, looking round my actual bookshelves and re-discovering books I’ve read or am looking forward to reading. The idea is to share your bookshelves with other bloggers. Any aspect you like:

Whatever you fancy as long as you have fun basically. My shelf this week is a mixed shelf, mainly poetry books.


I’m just going to pick out a few, starting with my childhood favourite, A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. This is not the copy I had as a child as that disappeared years ago. I learnt lots of these by heart and used to recite them out loud. One of my favourite which was so true for me as a child is Bed in Summer. Older children would be playing in the road, but I had to go to bed and I would look out of the window and wish I was outside with them. This brings it all back!

Bed in Summer
In winter I get up at night
And dress in yellow candlelight.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

Next is William Wordsworth: Selected Poetry. Wordsworth’s poem Daffodils was another poem I loved to recite, but I also love My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold:

My heart leaps up when I behold
A Rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a Man;
So be it when I grow old, 
Or let me die!
The Child is Father to the Man;
Or let me die!
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

Then The Waste Land and other poems by T S Eliot. I studied The Waste Land as part of an OU course I took and my copy is surrounded by pencil notes that I made then. I don’t think I’d have read it if it hadn’t been part of the course, but I’m glad I did, although I’m sure I didn’t understand some of it.

Of the other poems in this collection Journey of the Magi is my favourite. It begins:

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'

One of my favourite poems is in The Poetry Anthology for the OU. It is Not Waving But Drowning by Stevie Smith:

Nobody heard him, the dead man
But still he lay moaning;
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way
They said.

Oh, no, no, no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving, but drowning.

7 thoughts on “Bookshelf Travelling: Poetry

  1. I remember reading A Child’s Garden of Verses when I was a little one, Margaret. I have very fond memories of tome of those poems. And I do like T.S. Eliot’s work, although I don’t always understand it, either! What I think I like best, though, is an anthology with different poets’ work; I like to get a sense of a variety of poets when I read, I suppose.


  2. Bed in Summer brings back such memories. Lying there in daylight trying to go to sleep, I could hear Sing Something Simple playing on the radio. I think it must’ve lulled me to sleep because I don’t ever remember the end of the programme. I have the RLS book too, my daughters loved it.


  3. I so remember those days when I had to go to bed in broad daylight during summer and I wasn’t at all tired. But of course in Scotland it could be 10 pm and still daylight. I have a few copies of A Child’s Garden of Verses.


  4. Gosh, Margaret!
    My mother read to me A Child’s Garden of Verses before bedtime when I was a young child (ages 6-7). And how I identified with that poem. I think it was summer when she shared that one with me. I loved that volume, and I have no idea what happened to it, sadly. I loved the poem “The Lamplighter” as well. I dimly recall loving that one. I hope it was from this volume. (??)


  5. A great Traveling post! I remember reading that Bed in Summer poem a few years ago and thought then, and still do, that it so adequately expresses the agony I remember feeling as a kid having to go to bed while it was still light out. Especially because some of our neighbor kids were still outside playing. Now I’m grateful for parents that wanted us to get a good night’s sleep. At the time I felt my brother and I were martyrs.

    I’ve been reading a lot of Mary Oliver poetry of late. I have fallen in love with her way of seeing the world and her way of expressing what she sees and experiences.


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