Read more poetry – A personal challenge

Shakespeare's sonnets title page
Title page of the first Quarto (Q) published by Thomas Thorpe (TT) in 1609 and printed by G. Eld. Image from shakespeares-sonnets.com

I used to read a lot of poetry. My bookshelves were crammed with classic volumes of mainly 19th century poets. Amongst my favourites were William Blake, Elizabeth Browning, Robert Burns, Christina Rosetti and W. B. Yeats. Along with the more ‘serious’ poets, I loved the nonsensical rhymes of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. I even used to know some poems off by heart. To this day I can still muster the opening lines of Byron’s She walks in beauty which was my favourite poem then. There’s nothing more enjoyable than listening to poetry read aloud (whether by yourself or someone else). Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Ulalume was a particularly haunting (and cherished) recording I had but have now lost.

My knowledge of more modern poetry is sadly lacking. That’s something I want to improve. I’m also painfully aware of the fact that I no longer read poetry. Since my books were packed away after University they have for the most part been languishing in stacks of cardboard boxes ever since. So as a personal challenge this month I’ve determined to introduce some poetry into my reading list.

Most of my reading is now done on an e-reader. It’s telling that there are no volumes of poetry saved there. To aid my challenge, I’ve downloaded some of the most popular volumes on Project Gutenberg. I’m going to start with some old favourites – Shakespeare’s sonnets – to read aloud and savour. Next month I’ll update you on my progress and perhaps pick another poet to read. You’re very welcome to join me!

Do you ever read poetry? What are your favourite poets or poems?

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