Thomas Brock, our resident travelling English teacher wants to share a poem with you. He has been working hard recently on creating his English Poetry course and he is going to talk about one of his new favourite poems. Read, learn some new vocabulary, and practise English!
Poetry: A kind of literature that is short, expressive and has rhythm.
Demand: an interest or need for something to be sold or supplied.
Research: a detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover (new) information or reach a (new) understanding.
Theme: the main subject of a talk, book, film, etc..
Style: a way of doing something, especially one that is typical of a person, group of people, place, or period.
Archaic: of or belonging to a very old period in history.
Accessible: able to be reached or easily obtained or understood.
Manageable: easy or possible to deal with.
In-depth: done carefully and in great detail.
Whimsical: unusual and strange in a way that might be funny or annoying.
Comical: funny in a strange or silly way.
Nasty: bad or very unpleasant.
Hymn: best; most likely to bring success or advantage.
Prisoner of War: a member of the armed forces who has been caught by enemy forces during a war.
Trivial: not serious, having little value or importance.
Desperate: very serious or bad.
Inspire: to make someone have a particularly strong feeling or reaction.
I recently read a poem.
As I mentioned last week I have just opened my very first course, a poetry course! On the course I am going to be guiding a small group of 5 non-native English speakers through a number of famous British poems.
I am very pleased that my Wednesday course starting on the 29th of March is almost full, with just one place left available. Because of this demand I have chosen to open the course again on a new date!
On Mondays, starting on the 3rd of April!
In researching for the course I have read quite a few poems. Some things that were important were to have a range of different themes in the selection, and also a range of style and language. I also wanted to make sure that the poems that I selected were not too long, or written in too distant and archaic English. I needed the poems to be accessible and manageable.
Click on the image to book now or find out more!
Whilst I do expect some in-depth and perhaps advanced-English discussions being held on the course, it is my task to make each idea shared, understandable to all. For this reason the choice of poems is important.
However, I don’t want to share all of the selected poems with everyone, if you want to learn about these poems then you should join the course!
What I would like to do is to share a poem that I read in researching for my course and instantly fell in love with. I felt the poem was a little too long for the course, but I want to share it here and write a few words to explain why I like it.
By F. W. Harvey
From troubles of the world
I turn to ducks,
Beautiful comical things
Sleeping or curled
Their heads beneath white wings
By water cool,
Or finding curious things
To eat in various mucks
Beneath the pool,
Tails uppermost, or waddling
Sailor-like on the shores
Of ponds, or paddling
– Left! Right! – with fanlike feet
Which are for steady oars
When they (white galleys) float
Each bird a boat
Rippling at will the sweet
When night is fallen you creep
Upstairs, but drakes and dillies
Nest with pale water-stars,
Moonbeams and shadow bars,
Fearful too much to sleep
Since they’ve no locks
To click against the teeth
Of weasel and fox.
And warm beneath
Are eggs of cloudy green
Whence hungry rats and lean
Would stealthily suck
New life, but for the mien
The bold ferocious mien
Of the mother-duck.
Yes, ducks are valiant things
On nests of twigs and straws,
And ducks are soothy things
And lovely on the lake
When that the sunlight draws
Thereon their pictures dim
In colours cool.
And when beneath the pool
They dabble, and when they swim
And make their rippling rings,
0 ducks are beautiful things!
But ducks are comical things:-
As comical as you.
They waddle round, they do.
They eat all sorts of things,
And then they quack.
By barn and stable and stack
They wander at their will,
But if you go too near
They look at you through black
Small topaz-tinted eyes
And wish you ill.
Triangular and clear
They leave their curious track
In mud at the water’s edge,
And there amid the sedge
And slime they gobble and peer
Saying ‘Quack! quack!’
When God had finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion little ones;
Beautiful tiny things (like daisies) He made, and then
He made the comical ones in case the minds of men
Should stiffen and become
Dull, humourless and glum,
And so forgetful of their Maker be
As to take even themselves – quite seriously.
Caterpillars and cats are lively and excellent puns:
All God’s jokes are good – even the practical ones!
And as for the duck, 1 think God must have smiled a bit
Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day He fashioned it.
And he’s probably laughing still at the sound that came
out of its bill!
Book now, or find out more information on my website!
Places are limited!
If you are interested in this course, but can’t make the dates, then register your interest here and I will let you know when new dates will be available!
The main reason I like this poem, and the thing that drew me to it in the first place was the fact that I love ducks. I think ducks may be my favourite animals. I have often had to explain this choice to people, and until now, I never really knew how. Will Harvey does that for me in this poem. He perfectly describes why I love ducks.
Secondly, I think this poem is playful and whimsical, drawing on the comical nature of ducks, but all the while reminding us that they are a breath of fresh air away from the nastier things in life. Not only this but there is a real wealth of language used here. Harvey uses some excellent English words and phrases that might not be common to the English learner.
But this poem is not just a lighthearted hymn to the delightful duck.
F.W. Harvey wrote this poem while he was a prisoner of war in WWI. This gives an idea of what he means by ‘the troubles of the world’ – This gives me great hope, that the human mind can keep its focus on the nicer and more trivial things in life, even when we are in dark and desperate places.
I have given just a short account of my thoughts on the poem because I would like anyone reading this to read it themselves, and then to read it again. You should note down any words that are new to you, and any lines or sentences you fail to understand. For the parts that you do understand, think about the images that are created in your mind, and the thoughts and memories that the poem inspires you to find.
Reading poetry is fun.
Whilst I can’t guide everyone reading this through this poem, I can invite you to learn more and even think about joining my poetry course. On the course we will look at five different poems and talk about them in depth.
My course is designed to be accessible. It is made for intermediate and advanced English learners. If you can read this article then you can take the course.
If you hadn’t guessed it already, I am very excited for the course.
I hope to see you all there!
Have you ever read an English Poem?
Do you read poetry in your native language?
What other things would you like to use your English level for?
Do you have recommendations for future courses on different topics?