Thursday, February 1, 2007

Literary Legacies - A Poetess Offers a Poem

Nearly at random, I pulled a poem down from Poetry Connection's website as the expression of how a theatrical presentation connects with an audience. Some people have difficulty (believe it or not) with Shakespeare, reading him or seeing his work performed. That is not the issue here.

What I see this poem as is an entry into this new site's challenge of selecting works for reading and review. So let's get started with a poem:

Elizabeth Jennings -
A Performance Of Henry V At Stratford-Upon-Avon

Nature teaches us our tongue again
And the swift sentences came pat. I came
Into cool night rescued from rainy dawn.
And I seethed with language - Henry at
Harfleur and Agincourt came apt for war
In Ireland and the Middle East. Here was
The riddling and right tongue, the feeling words
Solid and dutiful. Aspiring hope
Met purpose in "advantages" and "He
That fights with me today shall be my brother."
Say this is patriotic, out of date.
But you are wrong. It never is too late

For nights of stars and feet that move to an
Iambic measure; all who clapped were linked,
The theatre is our treasury and too,
Our study, school-room, house where mercy is

Dispensed with justice. Shakespeare has the mood
And draws the music from the dullest heart.
This is our birthright, speeches for the dumb
And unaccomplished. Henry has the words
For grief and we learn how to tell of death
With dignity. "All was as cold" she said
"As any stone" and so, we who lacked scope
For big or little deaths, increase, grow up
To purposes and means to face events
Of cruelty, stupidity. I walked
Fast under stars. The Avon wandered on
"Tomorrow and tomorrow". Words aren't worn
Out in this place but can renew our tongue,
Flesh out our feeling, make us apt for life.

Elizabeth Jennings (1926 - 2001)

English Woman Poet Jennings imageElizabeth Joan Jennings (July 18, 1926 – October 26, 2001) was an English poet, noted for her clarity of style and simplicity of literary approach. Her Roman Catholicism coloured much of her work. She always made it clear that, whilst her life, which includes a spell of severe mental illness, contributed to the themes contained within her work, she did not write explicitly autobiographical poetry.

From The Poetry Connection
Borrowed by: The Reader's Journal 1 02 07
as our first featured author.