This section aims to introduce you to a few of the poems in the Archive and to identify some possible starting points.
Poems are meant to be listened to and heard, rather than simply read, and all the poems here are read by the poets who wrote them. A good poem should involve, intrigue, or engage us, and above all should 'move' the reader; occasionally, a poem will make us laugh. Generally we respond to a poem because it captures an experience or expresses an idea we recognise, often one which is common to us all: falling in love, loss of love, the joys and pressures of life, or significant life events such as war or death. (Some of our favourite 'pop' songs often do the same: think about John Lennon's Imagine, or Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel.)
Whether you like a poem is very much a matter of personal choice, so our suggestions below are merely a guide. Often, people will have different interpretations of a poem, depending on what they are feeling and what their experiences of life are. We have identified a few poems to start you listening.
You can hear the gentle voice of the poet in this, talking about his baby son, his mother and his neighbours. You may also be familiar with what he says about being up at 5.00am with a new baby!
In My Two Small Fists
Here the writer is thinking of his childhood, and the poem may remind you of summer time or picking flowers, and being carefree. Listen to the sentence: "In that bright blue summer..." - we sometimes think of our childhood as being always sunny!
If you have children, you may like this poem. Customs surrounding the birth of a baby vary in different countries, as here, where the poet describes his own birth in the West Indies, but it also reveals some of the similarities.
If you like the sound of this poet, try his Benediction, which is a short 'thank you' poem, rather like a prayer, about our ability to see, hear and feel.
If you like this one, look for a poem of Vicki Feaver's called Coat, which is a short, sad one about a lost love. It's not in the Archive, but you can find it in her collection Close Relatives (published by Secker & Warburg, 1981).
If this poem appeals to you, here are some others about love and loss, which you might like to look for. They don't appear on this website, but you can find them in your library or bookshop:
Celia, Celia by Adrian Mitchell (short and funny!). From the book Adrian Mitchell's Greatest Hits (published by Bloodaxe Books, 1991).
After the Lunch, Message, Flowers and Valentine by Wendy Cope (a lively group of short modern poems, from her book Serious Concerns).
Oh tell me the Truth about Love and Funeral Blues by WH Auden. The first one of Auden's is a series of amusing questions about what love is. The second poem is much harsher and sadder, as he describes the pain he feels on the death of his lover; it is a very intense, personal poem. It begins with the words "Stop all the clocks", and you may remember it from the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. If you have lost someone close to you, I think you will understand how he feels.
Some of the poems mentioned here can also be found in The Nation's Favourite Love Poems, edited by Daisy Goodwin (BBC books).
Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Charge of the Light Brigade
This narrative poem tells the story of the massacre of the Light Brigade in the Crimean war, and is written with a steady marching style and pace, so that you can almost see and feel the soldiers going into battle, and to their death.
RAW is the BBC's new literacy campaign, which aims to help you enjoy your reading and writing.
Factsheets, worksheets, quizzes and games to help improve your English skills.
Information about The Open Door Book of Poetry and its series of novels: the first choice of adults learning to read, foreign students learning English, and anyone who loves reading great writing.