Whanne that Aprille . . .

Poets_cornerApril brings a number of things: warmer–if sometimes untrustworthy–weather, spring flowers, Easter (some years), income taxes (every year), and . . . National Poetry Month.

Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey. Geoffrey Chaucer was the first poet to be interred here, in the sixteenth century

Personally, I think poetry is worth celebrating any time, but I have no objection to there being an official month to recognize its awesomeness. I’ve never understood why some people dislike or seem afraid of poetry. Yes, some poems can be hackneyed, clichéd, obscure, or poorly constructed, but when written well, poetry can be sensual, passionate, witty, romantic, sharp, provocative, heartbreaking, hilarious, and eloquent as few other things can be.

My own love affair with poetry dates back to childhood, to Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, and A. A. Milne. To whimsical poems that made me smile, to nonsensical poems that made me laugh. Later there were poems that moved, stirred, inspired, and sometimes inflamed me. I used to have a blog that I’d update every day in April with a poem. At the moment my life is a bit too busy to keep up that practice but for old times’ sake, I’m posting one today–a witty tongue-twister (just try to keep the words–and your face–straight, when reading this aloud!) by the one and only Ogden Nash!

The Private Dining Room

Miss Rafferty wore taffeta,
Miss Cavendish wore lavender.
We ate pickerel and mackerel
And other lavish provender,
Miss Cavendish was Lalage,
Miss Rafferty was Barbara.
We gobbled pickled mackerel
And broke the candelabara,
Miss Cavendish in lavender,
In taffeta, Miss Rafferty,
The girls in taffeta lavender,
And we, of course, in multi.

Miss Rafferty wore taffeta,
The taffeta was lavender,
Was lavend, lavender, lavenderest,
As the wine improved the provender.
Miss Cavendish wore lavender,
The lavender was taffeta.
We boggled mackled pickerel,
And bumpers did we quaffeta.
And Lalage wore lavender,
And lavender wore Barbara,
Rafferta taffeta Cavender lavender
Barbara abracadabra.

Miss Rafferty in taffeta
Grew definitely raffisher.
Miss Cavendish in lavender
Grew less and less stand-offisher.
With Lalage and Barbara
We grew a little pickereled,
We ordered Mumm and Roederer
Because the bubbles tickereled.
But lavender and taffeta
Were gone when we were soberer.
I haven’t thought in thirty years
Of Lalage and Barbara.

–Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

Do you have any favorite poems or favorite poets?

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