All cultures have different poetry styles, from the 17 syllable haiku in Japan to the long narrative poems of the west. When you read a poem you can have a better understanding of the way that culture sees reality. Reading poetry is challenging in any language. Depending on the poetry you are reading, out-of-date vocabulary and expressions are often used.
Here is a famous poem by Alun Lewis which he wrote for his wife Gweno in 1942.
Watch and listen to the video and try filling the gaps with the correct words. Can you guess the rhyming pattern as well?
So we must say Goodbye, my darling,
And go, as lovers go, for ever;
Tonight remains, to pack and fix on labels
And make an end of lying down ________.
I put a final shilling in the gas,
And watch you slip your dress below your knees
And lie so still I hear your rustling comb
Modulate the autumn in the _________.
And all the countless things I shall remember
Lay mummy-cloths of silence round my head;
I fill the carafe with a drink of water;
You say ‘We paid a guinea for this _______,’
And then, ‘We’ll leave some gas, a little warmth
For the next resident, and these dry flowers,’
And turn your face away, afraid to speak
The big word, that Eternity is _________.
Your kisses close my eyes and yet you stare
As though god struck a child with nameless fears;
Perhaps the water glitters and discloses
Time’s chalice and its limpid useless _______.
Everything we renounce except our selves;
Selfishness is the last of all to go;
Our sighs are exhalations of the earth,
Our footprints leave a track across the _________.
We made the universe to be our home,
Our nostrils took the wind to be our breath,
Our hearts are massive towers of delight,
We stride across the seven seas of ________.
Yet when all’s done you’ll keep the emerald
I placed upon your finger in the street;
And I will keep the patches that you sewed
On my old battledress tonight, my ________.
Fix on labels: attach cards to luggage with name address on.
shilling in the gas: in some hotels and flats in Britain you have to put money into a box to make the gas fire work ( a shilling = an old coin)
Mummy–cloths: the cloths used to preserve bodies in ancient Egypt.
guinea: an old coin ( worth just over £1) no longer used.
chalice: a drinking cup
Patches: the pieces of cloth soldiers have on their battledress to show their rank.
Limpid: A liquid of a person’s eyes) Unclouded; clear
Stride: Walk with long, decisive steps in a specified direction: “he strode across the road”.