Recommendations for a poetry noob? My fella says he's never read one in his life...

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Dorm Ant

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OK, crew, down tools.

My partner mentioned the other day that he's never read a poem in his life, or had any read to him at live performances etc. I wondered whether it may be due to that inverse snobbery a lot of "working class" folk have, that anything cultured is "highbrow" and a bit suspect, and to be given a wide berth, (an assumption that I certainly grew up with). He just says, though, that he's never been encouraged to read poetry and wouldn't know where to start. He's never been to the theatre, or an art gallery, either.

So here's my question. Can you recommend any poems/poets that I could introduce him to? He has a Masters in computing, so I don't think that comprehension and concentration is the issue. I think it's just lack of exposure, in the same way that I've never watched a cricket match, as I wouldn't have a clue what was going on.
 
For dramatic impact, try:

The Highwayman​

BY ALFRED NOYES

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.


Forget the figures of speech, just go for the story. A love story and a thriller. When we did it at school, even the boys were interested.

"Look for me by moonlight;
Watch for me by moonlight;
I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!"
 
If... Rudyard Kipling: 1865-1936

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
 
Dylan Thomas Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

. . .

My favourite poem is Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four grey walls, and four grey towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle embowers
The Lady of Shalott.

...
 
I absolutely LOVE On Being. They've a podcast, where they read a poem and then talk about it. I could listen all day (hope that link worked, my phone is hopping all over the place. Its onbeing.Org) its glorious and enlightening and I'm endlessly interested and inspired. I think it's a great place to start.
 
My favourite poem is Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott
It always perplexed me. I always wanted to know what she could have done to be cursed in that way. And I've never managed to find out – I don't think the writer of her original story ever spelled (oops. pun.sorry) it out.
 
It always perplexed me. I always wanted to know what she could have done to be cursed in that way. And I've never managed to find out – I don't think the writer of her original story ever spelled (oops. pun.sorry) it out.
Morte d'Arthur, synopsised by Hannah

Lancelot was having an affair with Guinevere. He won tourneys and was saving up his winnings to buy land in the hope that Guinevere would run off with him, but King Arthur, who'd been away, returned, so Lancelot planned to win the next tourney in disguise. Off he went to his pal, the Baron of Astolat (the real name of Tennyson's Shalott).
The baron's daughter, Elaine (the Lady of Shalott), fell in love with Lancelot and gave him a favour to wear at the joust. Her brother gave him his armour and a blank shield. Guinevere wondered, who is that talented knight wearing Elaine of Astolat's favour?
Other round table knights were afraid this skilled stranger would beat Lancelot so they beat him up and pierced his left side with a sword. Elaine's father and brother quickly carried him from the tilt to a secret hideaway in the forest.
Elaine visited him there and nursed him back to health. When he had recovered, he offered her coin. Affronted, she told him she did not want coin, she wanted him. He explained his heart was bound to another and returned to Camelot and Guinevere.
His secret would have been safe if Sir Gawain had not also visited the Baron and seen the shield Lancelot had used and the favour, and so gossip spread around the round table, eventually reaching Guinevere. Incensed that Elaine should dare to make advances on Lancelot, she ordered Morgana to cast a spell. Elaine could no longer ever look out on the world again unless through a mirror. If she did so, she would die.

Take over, Lord Tennyson.
 
Brilliant, thank you. I knew she was Elaine, and that somehow Lancelot was involved – but that Guinevere was behind it, via Morgana, No. That was all news.

It's good, though. As a story, it works.

And great not to have to wade through Md'A. I think I might have been supposed to, once, but I never did.
 
It always perplexed me. I always wanted to know what she could have done to be cursed in that way. And I've never managed to find out – I don't think the writer of her original story ever spelled (oops. pun.sorry) it out.
She loved the wrong guy. She tried to bend fate to her own end. She almost got him too. Very similar to Ophelia-bet that's no accident.
 
OK, crew, down tools.

My partner mentioned the other day that he's never read a poem in his life, or had any read to him at live performances etc. I wondered whether it may be due to that inverse snobbery a lot of "working class" folk have, that anything cultured is "highbrow" and a bit suspect, and to be given a wide berth, (an assumption that I certainly grew up with). He just says, though, that he's never been encouraged to read poetry and wouldn't know where to start. He's never been to the theatre, or an art gallery, either.

So here's my question. Can you recommend any poems/poets that I could introduce him to? He has a Masters in computing, so I don't think that comprehension and concentration is the issue. I think it's just lack of exposure, in the same way that I've never watched a cricket match, as I wouldn't have a clue what was going on.
I'd just start with Shakespeare. It takes some work to be able to revel in it, but there is so much there that has come into our language because it fills a need. Any of the films with subtitles maybe. Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet maybe? I loved Brian Blessed's autobiography on audible. The man's a national treasure. His father was a coal miner. Blessed says there wasn't one that couldn't quote whole texts from Shakespeare. He also tells about a teacher who got the working class kids into poetry and literature by telling them you're here in the stupid class, but you're not stupid. We're going to outdo all the others who think you're stupid. And ,he says, they did. Or there's always try a poem a day. Poem-a-Day | Academy of American Poets
 
Some progress made today... I got him to listen to some John Cooper Clarke (Bard of Salford).
 
(when I was around 8, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said: "Séamus Heaney", lol :) We'd read a poem in school about his brother who was knocked down by a car and it affected me profoundly. I've loved poetry since. Thanks Séamus!!)
 
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