National Poetry Day 2013: Water, water everywhere…

national poerty day 2013It’s one of our favourite days here at The Reader OrganisationNational Poetry Day. Of course, we love to read and share poems every day of the year in our Get Into Reading groups, through The Reader magazine, our anthologies and much more, but we’re particularly excited to enjoy this nationwide celebration of poetry for everyone, everywhere.

This year’s National Poetry Day promises to be bigger than ever, with lots of exciting events taking poetry out onto the streets and even onto the London Underground – see a full list of events and find out if there’s something happening near you on the NPD website.

There’s no reason not to celebrate even if you aren’t near an event, as all you need to do is find a poem and read it aloud, passing the experience on to those around you. What better way could there be to commemorate National Poetry Day than by simply sharing a piece of poetry with someone you care about? This year’s theme for NPD is ‘water, water everywhere’ – a well-tread subject in the world of poetry. From lakes, streams and oceans, to boating, raindrops and sea creatures, there’s a wealth of classic and contemporary verses out there to help you get into the spirit of the day.

Here are just a few recommendations of water-themed poems that we’ve enjoyed here at The Reader Organisation:

The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Dover Beach – Matthew Arnold

Sea Fever – John Masefield

From The Wave – Thom Gunn

The Lake Isle of Innisfree – W.B. Yeats

Frozen – Alicia Stubbersfield

Cadenabbia – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Dart – Alice Oswald

Ulysses – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free – William Wordsworth

And as an extra treat this National Poetry Day, we’re giving you another full-length helping of poetry on The Reader Online from Thomas Hardy. Enjoy the day, and have fun with some wonderful, watery poetry!

Under The Waterfall

Whenever I plunge my arm, like this,
In a basin of water, I never miss
The sweet sharp sense of a fugitive day
Fetched back from its thickening shroud of grey.
Hence the only prime
And real love-rhyme
That I know by heart,
And that leaves no smart,
Is the purl of a little valley fall
About three spans wide and two spans tall
Over a table of solid rock,
And into a scoop of the self-same block;
The purl of a runlet that never ceases
In stir of kingdoms, in wars, in peaces;
With a hollow boiling voice it speaks
And has spoken since hills were turf less peaks.

And why gives this the only prime
Idea to you of a real love-rhyme?
And why does plunging your arm in a bowl
Full of spring water; bring throbs to your soul?

Well, under the fall, in a crease of the stone,
Though precisely where none ever has known,
Jammed darkly, nothing to show how prized,
And by now with its smoothness opalized,
Is a drinking glass:
For, down that pass
My lover and I
Walked under a sky
Of blue with a leaf-wove awning of green,
In the burn of August, to paint the scene,
And we placed our basket of fruit and wine
By the runlet’s rim, where we sat to dine;
And when we had drunk from the glass together,
Arched by the oak-copse from the weather,
I held the vessel to rinse in the fall,
Where it slipped, and it sank, and was past recall,
Though we stooped and plumbed the little abyss
With long bared arms. There the glass still is.
And, as said, if I thrust my arm below
Cold water in a basin or bowl, a throe
From the past awakens a sense of that time,
And the glass we used, and the cascade’s rhyme.
The basin seems the pool, and its edge
The hard smooth face of the brook-side ledge,
And the leafy pattern of china-ware
The hanging plants that were bathing there.

By night, by day, when it shines or lours,
There lies intact that chalice of ours,
And its presence adds to the rhyme of love
Persistently sung by the fall above.
No lip has touched it since his and mine
In turns there from sipped lovers’ wine.

Thomas Hardy


Peter Robinson, Professor of English Literature at the University of Reading, has written a poem to mark the imminent closure of HMP Reading, one of our Criminal Justice settings for Get Into Reading. Released in time for National Poetry Day, Time for Time was composed after Peter visited the group at HMP Reading, the place that inspired Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

You can read Time for Time on the Two Rivers Press website, which is also offering 25% off all poetry titles this National Poetry Day.

Read more about our project at HMP Reading by visiting the South East page of our website.

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