Poetry as a life companion

Elizabeth Heathcote finds that an anthology of poems makes a great companion to life

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Anthologies are a great way into poetry – a taster of many different writers and of course you often get the pick of their crop. I have been reading Penguin’s Poems For Life, selected by Laura Barber, a collection arranged around the different life stages. The joy of an anthology is the mix of half-known classics and new finds and there are some great companions for life here.

I laughed my way through my first full-length reading of Philip Larkin’s reflections on work as a Toad that he allows to “squat on my life”:

Six days of the week it soils

With its sickening poison –

Just for paying a few bills!

That’s out of proportion…

I felt a sigh like Robert Frost’s own reading The Road Not Taken, about the traveller who meets a fork in his path and has to choose, not knowing until the final verse that his decision will prove irrevocable:

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence;

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

And among my new discoveries was Carmen Bugan’s A house of stone – well-wishes to newlyweds. This verse rang particularly true to me – in a good way.

When you imagine that you have shared everything

May you know that you still have the rest of your lives

To do all of it again and again.

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Elizabeth Heathcote

Associate Editor, Psychologies