Tuesday Poem: 60 Years in 60 Poems

photo copyright John Heseltine


Jo Shapcott: The Great Storm  - 1987
We rode it all night. We were not ourselves then.

Through the window everything was horizontal.
In cars and ships and woods, folk died.
Small trees scattered like matchsticks
and a whole shed flew by. The world roared.
A branch broke into the kitchen,
strewed twigs into the banging cupboard,
filled broken crocks with leaves. I heard
a tricycle roll up and down the attic as
the firmament streamed through smashed tiles.

I loved you but I loved the wind more,
wanted to be as horizontal as the tree tops,
to cling to the planet by my last fingernail,
singing into the rush, into the dark.
I didn't know then I would watch
my beloveds peel off the earth

each side of me, flying among tiles, bins,
caravans, car doors and chimney pots,
watch them turn themselves into flotsam
and disappear as wholly as the pier
the next morning, a Friday, mid-
October. Gone, split, vamoosed
like the fifteen million trees.


Carol Ann Duffy invited 60 poets to contribute a poem celebrating one year of the Queen’s sixty on the throne.  It’s an amazing collection by some of the UK’s best poets.   I chose 1987 because I remember the big storm very well - I was living in a roof-top flat in Bristol and stayed awake all night listening to horrific noises and expecting at any moment to be looking at the sky through the rafters.  In the morning I discovered the roof tiles stacked in piles in the gutters and the lead on the dormer windows rolled up neatly as if by experts.  I liked Jo Shapcott’s poem because she captures the exhilaration of it, the adrenaline rush of the experience.

The collection can be read on-line at the Poetry Book Society, or on the Guardian’s web site or here at Jubilee Lines dot com.

For more Tuesday Poems check out the web site and find out what Tuesday Poets are posting from around the world.

Comments

  1. I love Jo Shapcott. Great choice. And wind, well we know it here in Wellington - my poem this week is about wind, too, Kathleen, a lesser wind, but still windyyyyyy .... http://mary-mccallum.blogspot.co.nz/2012/06/tuesday-poem-wind-was.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It IS a great choice. I agree it was incredibly windyyyyyyyy

      Delete
  2. I remember the great storm and the tragedy of lost trees. J Shapcot's poem is so visual and is full of sound. I especially appreciate the sound of the tricycle rolling up and down in the attic. Thanks Kathy for having me read this. wx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember the storm also - a complete disaster. Let's all thank Kathy for having us read this

      Delete
  3. Poems are based on natural themes and human emotions that can make anyone feel happy.
    Poems

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I felt the most happy I have in over ten years whilst reading this poem since I could imagine myself flying through the skies on a magic carpet.

      Delete
  4. Sounds like a wonderful collection. I really like so much in this poem -- the way it unites the personal with the universal. I esp like this:

    I loved you but I loved the wind more,
    wanted to be as horizontal as the tree tops,
    to cling to the planet by my last fingernail,
    singing into the rush, into the dark.

    glad you posted this poem!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really like this poem sooo much too and can't agree more about how it unites the personal with the universe. It's absolutely beautiful

      Delete
  5. I have recently discovered Jo Shapcott - I enjoyed this poem, and the feeling of exhilaration in the midst of disaster.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't agree more, Catherine, she's an amazing human being and my favourite poet ever. I aspire to be her.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for your comments - it's a really interesting collection and I like the idea that it's available on the internet to browse through. One of the good things to have happened because of the Jubilee!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathleen, you are absolutely correct. Let's all thank the good Lord for the Jubilee!

      Delete
  7. This is truly the most beautiful poem I have ever read. Its helped me through the toughest times of my whole life - I only have to read this poem and I feel strong again. Thank you, Jo, for such a wonderful work of art.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you Leah, this is the best poem on Earth. All those dark moments in my life have been helped by this poem. Jo is the best person on earth. Thank you, Jo. I owe you one.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts