Bone deep poetry……

In a recent article in the Guardian Weekly Imogen Russell Williams wrote:

‘to me poetry‘s usefulness cannot be overstated. I think everyone who loves poetry is made up of certain lines, absorbed at a bone deep level, to be drawn on when they’re needed’.

The poetry bookshelf
The poetry bookshelf

Do you have lines that spring unbidden but predictably to your mind’s lips in certain situations? I know I do. Those ‘bone deep’ lines that are just part of your conversation not ‘quoted’.

What lines are you made up of? (Leave a comment and share them here). They don’t have to be from poems – songs, prose or simply oft-repeated family sentiments or adages. do you catch yourself saying things your parents and grandparents said? This is all part of a legacy – remembering what people said to us is a way of keeping them alive.

Having a father who spoke Shakespeare (like the father in Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters), my childhood was punctuated with quotation. At bedtime: Good-night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

To exhort children to the top of the next hill:

Lay on, Macduff, and damned be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!”

We spoke other verse too – Larkin greeted spring:

Spring aspen
Spring aspen

The trees are coming into leafLike something almost being said

As students our language was Eliot & Yeats.

In Jane Haynes’ book Who is it that can tell me who I am? The journal of a psychotherapist (the title itself is a quotation from King Lear) she almost seamlessly interweaves quotations from poetry and narrative of psychotherapy – both are part of who she is.

Journal prompt:

If you are ‘made up of certain lines’ take the one that comes to mind and go from there. When did it become part of you? Who said it when? Where did it come from?

If not

Take down a volume of poetry, open it anywhere, take the first line that catches your eye and go…..


5 thoughts on “Bone deep poetry……”

  1. Hi Kate,

    This is such a good idea for a journalpPrompt. I may use it for the Journal Class I teach. How are you? I miss seeing you and our Monday morning group.

    Sending lots of love for Valentine’s day and all other days too.



    1. Hi Eleanor
      Glad you like this – do let me know how your group responds when you use this.

      Thank you for all your good wishes.


  2. We seem to live in a very windy part of the world and we have a metal roof, which amplifies the wind – whenever I wake after a particularly windy,stormy night I always think of Ted Hughes:
    ‘This house has been at sea all night’
    (can’t remember the poem it’s from).


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