The title of this poem is a take on the BBC Radio 4 programme, “Poetry Please”. Back in the day I was invited to read some of my “found” poems on its predecessor, Poetry Now. The programme was hosted by the Scottish poet George Macbeth (1932-1992) who has been described as, “one of the most gifted, inventive, moving and entertaining poets of our time.” I was privileged to meet him.

The first line of this poem is intended as a reference to the so-called Banksy of poetry, Brian Bilston, one of whose poems begins the words, “spare me”. If you have never read his work, I recommend it.

This poem came about as the result of a recent poetry competition in my writers’ group. I am pleased to say it came second out of 22 entries!

I hope you enjoy reading it.

Poetry Pleas

Spare me please from poetry

From poems lovelier than a tree.

From poems with no rhyme or reason

Extolling autumn’s mellow season.

Spare me from poems that rhyme badly

And have to rhyme with words like sadly.

Or poems that do not scan

Of them I’m clearly absolutely definitely not the biggest fan.

Spare me from kids who rant and rage,

Who strut their stuff upon the stage,

Who’ve never read Auden, Byron or Brooke,

But have learnt all they know from off Facebook.

They swear and shout and cuss and curse

In the form of rhyming verse.

Spare me please from poets who

Write about going to the loo.

Poets who think they won’t be heard

Unless they shout out the F word.

Spare me from the English teachers

Whose poetry teaching always features

Learning every single line,

Which to me is waste of time.

Who really wants to learn by rote

All the sonnets that Shakespeare wrote?

Spare me please from the poetry cloners

And disinterested bookshop owners.

I do not want to follow the herd

And modern poetry’s quite absurd.

All lower case and alliteration

And don’t get me started on punctuation!

Spare me from words that are new to me

I have to look them up you see.

Spare me please from poets who shout,

Who bellow and yell and prance about.

A poem read in tranquillity

Is how a poem is meant to be.

A poem that soothes and strikes a chord

With empathy in every word.

A poem that helps us live this life

And cope with loss and love and strife.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Charity shop find

This anonymous poem about the English language fell out of a book I recently bought at a charity shop:

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough and through.
Well done! And now you wish perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead, it’s said like bed, not bead-
for goodness’ sake don’t call it ‘deed’!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth, or brother,

And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s doze and rose and lose-
Just look them up- and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart –
Come, I’ve hardly made a start!

A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d learned to speak it when I was five!
And yet to write it, the more I sigh,
I’ll not learn how ’til the day I die.


Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems