Hetty's English Literature course & Masterclass students have shared their favourite poems with you!
Have you got a favourite poem? Tell us! email firstname.lastname@example.org
Billy recommends... "London" by William Blake
It was interesting for me and has stuck with me due to the massive contrast between London in the Victorian era as opposed to today. The quite depressing descriptions presented it as a place of woe, not prosperity and almost a bit like what I imagine purgatory would be like. It almost seems a little hellish in its own way. There’s quite powerful lines on the struggles of people as well as criticising the Church who turn a blind eye on the suffering people endure. The imagery and connotations you can conjure just make everything sound bleak, in such a way that it’s really stuck with me. I’d say the line that most stuck out was "marks of weakness, marks of woe".
Ellie recommends... "It's all I have to bring today" by Emily Dickinson
I really like the calmness of it and the multiple interpretations - some say it's about death whilst others think it about being in love. Overall I like the ambiguity and how no matter which way you look at it both death and love are made out to be very tranquil.
Issacca recommends... "Mother, Any Distance" by Simon Armitage
It's about growing up, and a changing relationship between mother and child. I love it because of the unique and symbolic imagery. My favourite line is the ending, "I reach / towards a hatch which opens on an endless sky / to fall or fly," because its bittersweet but optimistic.
Natalie recommends... "How many people does it take to change the world?" by Maya Stokes
This poem won the Orwell Youth Prize last year. It criticises society in a really inventive way.
English Teacher, Hetty, recommends... "Sonnet 116" by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare writes so much beauty and wisdom in the most confined of poetic spaces: the sonnet. In just 14 lines he manages to put across a life lesson that has stayed with me from the time I first heard and really thought about his sonnets when I was around 17. In this one, he celebrates the marriage of 'true minds' and this has stayed with me as a good blueprint for lasting love- are your minds both truthful, equal and compatible? Do you know and love the thoughts of your significant other? Also, true love doesn't care if you grow old, lose your youthful beauty, maintain an image of perfection or not, it will remain the same until 'the edge of doom'. Gets me every time. He is technically perfect, but with it he has an incredible emotional profundity that, for me, no-one else gets near.
Calvin, recommends... “When Tomorrow Starts Without Me” by David Romano
Although typically a funeral poem, it can bring a lot of comfort during difficult times and with the amount of loss at the moment due to COVID-19, I hope it can bring comfort to somebody else too.
Shona, recommends... “The Epic Tale of Tam O’Shanter" by Robert Burns
It’s become engrained in the folklore of my hometown of Ayr, and reminds me of home. It has a bit of everything – humour, nature, and witches!
Don’t worry there’s also an English Translation beside the original Scottish…
Leela, recommends... “The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred Lord, Tennyson
The Lady of Shalott is imprisoned in a tower near Camelot and weaves pictures of the outside world by looking at the reflection in a mirror. She risks everything for a real glimpse of Sir Lancelot and he isn't really that fussed!
I really like the beat in this poem especially in the below section:
She left the web, she left the loom
She made three paces thro' the room
She saw the water-flower bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
The artwork by John Waterhouse also depicts the poem perfectly.