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THE POWER OF POETRY

With everything else going on in the world, I somehow managed to miss International Poetry Day on 21st March.

I feel I should be saying or writing something profound.

I don’t have a new poem to offer you. But some interesting news.

It seems that people who have dementia respond to poetry – sometimes with just a smile or a flicker of recognition. Sometimes even joining in with the words.

This does not surprise me. Those of us who learned poems as kids can often still recite them – even when we can’t remember the title of the book we last read – or even what we had for dinner the night before!

I  remember how at our daughter’s wedding ceremony we were all moved to tears when my son-in-law’s grandfather, who had dementia, seemed to respond to the familiar words and melodies. I had also seen it when prayers were said in the synagogue at his nursing home. Elderly people – many of them with dementia – joining in with the songs and the familiar prayers. Sometimes mouthing the words or even saying them out loud.  It was amazing to see.

So yes, there is power in poetry, prayer and music. To these things that we all hold inside us.

When it’s my turn, I want Robert Louis Stevenson,  Wilfred Owen, Leonard Cohen and also to hear the cherished voices of my own children and grandchildren.

So, to celebrate National Poetry Day, let’s all learn a poem by heart today – and tell it to our children tomorrow.

Here’s an easy one to remember from Robert Louis Stevenson:

The world is so full of a number of things

I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Or how about this one – from me.

Poems are very hard to write

I think about them in the night

I wish that I had time to play

Then I’d write poems in the day!

Happy National Poetry Day everyone!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

THE COVID YEARS

I first posted this poem of mine back in April. It sadly seems to have more of a ring of truth to it now than it had then!

 

The Covid Years

You remember the start of 2020?

Busy lives and parties plenty

Cupboards full and never empty

Jetting off to far away places

Food enough to fill our faces

 

Then came Covid and suddenly

A change of life for you and me

Friends we could no longer see

Over 70s stuck at home

Keeping contact on the phone

 

So much time to spare indoors

Dusting the house and sorting out drawers

Cleaning the loo and washing floors

No need to tidy things away

Every day felt like a holiday

 

So many hours for us to talk

Plenty of time to go for a walk

April showers where were they?

The sun shone every single day

It felt more like July than May

 

Sometimes bad news trickled through

About the people we once knew

Tried not to watch the news on TV

I turned to you, you comforted me

We kept each other company

 

December came, the days were cold

All of us did what we were told

Living out our lives on hold

Celebrations have come and gone

All of us older one year on

 

The winter months they soon passed by

I’d learned to smile and not to cry

If the children asked we said we were well

And if we weren’t they couldn’t tell

Our interaction was all on screen

As if our old lives had never been

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

THE COVID YEARS

After reading in yesterday’s paper some of the bleak predictions about our future I wrote this poem:

 

THE COVID YEARS

You remember the start of 2020?

Busy lives and parties plenty

Cupboards full and never empty

Jetting off to far away places

Food enough to fill our faces

 

Then came Covid and suddenly

A change of life for you and me

Friends we could no longer see

Over 70s stuck at home

Keeping contact on the phone

 

So much time to spare indoors

Dusting the house and sorting out drawers

Cleaning the loo and washing floors

No need to tidy things away

Every day felt like a holiday

 

So many hours for us to talk

Plenty of time to go for a walk

April showers where were they?

The sun shone every single day

It felt more like July than May

 

Sometimes bad news trickled through

About the people we once knew

Tried not to watch the news on TV

I turned to you, you comforted me

We kept each other company

 

December came, the days were cold

All of us did what we were told

Living out our lives on hold

Celebrations have come and gone

All of us older one year on

 

The winter months they soon passed by

I’d learned to smile and not to cry

If the children asked we said we were well

And if we weren’t they couldn’t tell

Our interaction was all on screen

As if our old lives had never been

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

Heart Thumpers

 

Heart Thumpers

 

A faux brass case of old photographs

None of them good

And yet she kept them

A shopping list

Scrawled and barely legible

But in her hand

A birthday card signed “with love”

A button waiting to be sewn on

A compact that was once beautiful

Her glove

Her handkerchief

Her fragrance

“Heart Thumpers”

It says on the little case

Of photographs

Me squinting into the summer sun

How old could I have been?

Our children at play

Her unsmiling passport photo

All found in the drawer beside her bed

Throw them away, my father said

But I kept them all

The little things that made up her life

Keepsakes in a crystal bowl

That once held her make up

I open it reverently once a year

To smell the fragrance

Of that unforgotten past

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

An unforgettable day


  

October 30th 1999

Driving along the Promenade in Nice

The sun glinting on the ocean

Cars moving so slowly

That cyclists, joggers, roller skaters

Were all moving faster 

It was a beautiful, unforgettable day

The kind that makes you glad to be alive

Then out of nowhere

Into my head

Came a line

From my dad’s

Favourite rhyme

“I must go down to the sea again”

I said the whole poem out loud

Later

Driving back along the Promenade

The sun dipping

The cars going just that little bit faster

My phone rang

And a voice said

Your dad is dead

Suddenly

The day was unforgettable

For all the wrong reasons.
blog 3

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

The power of poetry

Today is National Poetry Day.

I suppose I should be saying or writing something profound.

I don’t have a new poem to offer you. However, I just heard something interesting on the BBC news tonight that I would like to share with you.

It seems that people who have dementia respond to poetry – sometimes with just a smile or a flicker of recognition. Sometimes even joining in with the words.

This does not surprise me. Those of us who learned poems as kids can often still recite them – even when we can’t remember the title of the book we last read – or even what we had for dinner the night before!

I  remember how at our daughter’s wedding ceremony we were all moved to tears when my son-in-law’s grandfather, who had dementia, seemed to respond to the familiar words and melodies. I had also seen it when prayers were said in the synagogue at his nursing home. Elderly people – many of them with dementia – joining in with the songs and the familiar prayers. Sometimes mouthing the words or even saying them out loud.  It was amazing to see.

So yes, there is power in poetry, prayers and music. To these things that we all hold inside us.

When it’s my turn, I want Robert Louis Stevenson,  Wilfred Owen, Leonard Cohen and also to hear the cherished voices of my own children and grandchildren.

So, to celebrate National Poetry Day, let’s all learn a poem by heart today – and tell it to our children tomorrow.

Here’s an easy one to remember  from Robert Louis Stevenson:

The world is so full of a number of things

I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.

Or how about this one – from me.

Poems are very hard to write

I think about them in the night

I wish that I had time to play

Then I’d write poems in the day!

Happy National Poetry Day everyone!

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems