On Idleness

In today's poetry feature Stephen considers the importance of being idle... I think of idleness as a good thing.  I do not associate idleness with lassitude, laziness, or sloth.  Rather, I associate it with repose, reverie, and contemplation. People who carry on cellphone conversations in public are in dire need of idleness. ... Read More...

Almost Human

In today's Dabbler Verse feature, Stephen considers self-awareness, and introduces a poem by C. Day Lewis... Is it possible to look at yourself objectively?  To see yourself for who you are?  Speaking for myself, I have my doubts.  Still, I like to think that I am more optimistic about the possibility ... Read More...

Ekphrasis: Thom Gunn on Edouard Vuillard

  Nige reflects on a poem about a painting... I only recently came across the word Ekphrasis (adj. ekphrastic), but I've been enjoying Ekphrasis, all unknowing, for many years. It describes a work of art (or part of one) whose subject is another work of art - from Homer on the shield ... Read More...

Armistice Day Poems

To mark 11 November, a post from the archives in which some of the Dabblers select a favourite verse appropriate to the occasion... Brit - Seigfried Sassoon: Everyone Sang (1920) This gradually became my favourite of Sassoon's poems, then my favourite war poem, and is now just one of my favourite poems. ... Read More...

John Clare in the Land of Sodom

There is truth and beauty in the commonplace, Stephen Pentz finds, as he considers the poetry and troubles of John Clare... I don't know exactly what it is, but there is something beguiling and lovely about the following poem. Some may find it too sentimental. Others may think that there is ... Read More...

London Scottish

Marking both last week's referendum result and the centenary of the Great War, here Gaw presents a poem about the war effort of the London Scottish rugby club... It's always the fellowship that seems most important to soldiers; ultimately, it's what persuades them to die. Doesn't that fit the definition of ... Read More...

Two Trees – A Poem For Alex Salmond

And so the Union endures. As a special tribute to Alex Salmond, here's something by the excellent Scottish poet Don Paterson. I offer no commentary - interpret it as you wish... Two Trees, by Don Paterson One morning, Don Miguel got out of bed with one idea rooted in his head: to graft his ... Read More...

Summer-into-Autumn

As summer ends, Stephen selects two seasonal poems... The sudden shifts in mood and imagery in Ivor Gurney's poetry (both between poems and within a poem) can sometimes be disconcerting and puzzling. It is tempting to ascribe these shifts to Gurney's struggles with mental illness. But one should be wary of ... Read More...

Questions and Answers

In today's poetry feature, Stephen looks at the big questions and the small questions of life... In the following poem, Elizabeth Jennings speaks of "small answers" and "big answers." Perhaps I have grown old and jaded (by the antics of humanity, my own included), but I prefer small answers. How tiresome ... Read More...

Edgar Guest, the People’s Poet

Today marks the 133rd birthday of the once extremely popular US poet Edgar Guest... Born on this day in 1881 (in England's Second City, Birmingham, though his family soon emigrated to the Land of the Free) was Edgar Guest, whose uplifting, nationally syndicated verse became so popular in the US that ... Read More...