Featured Poem: I Remember by Thomas Hood

As it is #DementiaAwarenessWeek – this week’s Featured Poem is selected by Lisa Spurgin, The Reader’s Learning and Quality Coordinator, from our Golden Anthology – a collection of poetry curated by The Reader for reading with older people.

And now in age I bud again

George Herbert,
The Flower.

The Reader works with the government’s national strategy Living well with Dementia and provides high quality treatment at whatever stage of the illness. We currently partner with a number of organisations including Knowsley Public Health to deliver weekly groups that support people living with dementia in both community settings and care homes.

With nearly a decade of experience, evaluation of our Shared Reading work with those living with dementia has shown positive improvements in mood, concentration and social interaction as well as reduction in agitation for readers.

Our Golden Anthologies are put together for our volunteers to share with older people. Each poem is chosen by an experienced member of The Reader’s team, because it has generated great discussion in their Shared Reading group.

Whether you are new to Shared Reading, or have been leading a group for many years, we hope to offer inspiration and spark ideas of ways to explore poems and discover golden treasure together.

Lisa says:

I Remember by Thomas Hood evokes a strong feeling of nostalgia for childhood and early experiences, which is something we’re all familiar with, but perhaps it could be said these special memories have a separate quality all of their own, going deeper than mere fondness. As we get caught up in the frantic rush of daily life we can find ourselves longing for the simplicity of being young, when the world seemed to be without care.

I’m particularly drawn to the lines

My spirit flew in feathers then,
That is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow!

I can certainly empathise with this feeling of longing for a time when stresses and strains did not affect me as much and life was not as complicated, although I’m not sure that I’d classify my soul as being heavy all of the time, neither my brow being permanently fevered!

I love the images of nature the poem draws out, the different flowers and especially the image of the sun that ‘came peeping in at morn’, which makes me think of summer days that always seemed to be endless. My favourite image has to be

I remember, I remember
The fir-trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:

I used to spend most of those long summer days on a swing-set in my parents’ garden, and I can well remember gazing at the trees as I was coasting back and forth against the air and having very similar thoughts as Hood describes here.

Hopefully this poem will stir up your own happy memories, especially if the sun is shining!

I Remember

I remember, I remember
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away!

I remember, I remember
The roses red and white,
The violets, and the lily cups,
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday, –
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then,
That is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow!

I remember, I remember
The fir-trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now ‘tis little joy
To know I’m further off from heaven
Than when I was a boy.

by Thomas Hood

Would you like the opportunity to read this or other poems in a Shared Reading group?

If you like the idea of listening along to a story or poem, why not come along to a Shared Reading group? We run groups across the UK, you can find one near you here.

If you can’t find a group in your local community, why not help us bring Shared Reading to your area by becoming a volunteer?

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