Whenever I wanted to read a poem to my father he’d make a face. He claimed he didn’t like poetry. I suspect it was the ambiguity in a poem that frustrated him. In fact Dad loved poems, the poems he committed to memory in his schooldays. He recited some of these often enough for them to take seed and grow inside me.
Now Dad is gone and it is I who recites his lines, learned at school around 1925:
Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude…
Thy tooth is not so keen
Because thou art not seen
Although thy breath be rude
I see Dad’s wry smile as he continued with lines that border on the cynical.
Sing Hey Ho, Hey ho unto the holly
Most friendship is feigning
Most loving mere folly
Dad was not cynical. So what appealed to him about this snatch from ‘The Tempest’?
I think it was the music.
Lots of people think they don’t like poetry. They would never read a poem – not willingly, not wittingly.
But they listen to songs. And a song is just a poem hidden inside music.
Think of the Beatles. Think of ‘Till there was you’. Think of ‘Elinor Mackenzie’. We loved those songs, not least for their poetry.
Nobody doesn’t like a song.