Of course, I did the usual stuff at school and several quotes are forever engraved on my mind: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (Owen); Know then thyself, presume not God to scan, The proper study of mankind is Man (Pope); and, a particular favourite, Great wits are sure to madness near allied, and thin partitions do their bounds divide (Dryden). (When I get round to writing my best-selling novel about a tortured genius I shall call it ‘Thin Partitions’.) And then there’s this chilling morsel: This grew; I gave commands; Then all smiles stopped together (Browning).
Even before senior school I had a childhood connection to a poet. I grew up in a house called Howitt Place, former home of Mary Howitt. As well as being an acclaimed writer and poet, she was also a keen promoter of children’s literature (she translated Hans Andersen’s fairy tales into English) and she was a social activist, speaking out for women’s equality and the abolition of slavery. Today, though, she is perhaps best remembered for ‘The Spider and the Fly’ (‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the Spider to the Fly,‘’Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy’).
In more recent times, when I moved to Northamptonshire it wasn’t long before I was introduced to the work of the ‘Peasant Poet (not to mention another tortured soul) John Clare: I am – yet what I am none cares or knows.
Now my circle of acquaintances includes several poets, some published, some not – and not wishing to be, preferring simply to write for the love of it. I am envious of their easy way with rhyme and form, but am not discouraged. On the contrary, the more I read and the more I try to write, the more accomplished I hope to become.
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