Asked by interviewer Sinead Gleeson to name a poem that influenced him, James, flirting no doubt, came up with a poem by Irishman Louis MacNeice, and recited it from memory: The Sunlight on the Garden.
I can also recite poems from memory, works by Yeats and Kavanagh mostly that I learned at school. They're poems with which I am intimate, the process of learning them by heart has somehow made me internalize them and understand them deeply. I've read and loved many poems since my school days, but never tried to learn another one by heart.
Until now. Inspired by the dying Clive James (who I hope will be dying for a few years yet) I'm learning the following poems I love off-by-heart, four in English and (gulp) one each in French and Swedish
- Wind, by Ted Hughes
- The Given Note, by Seamus Heaney
- Bridge, by Jim Harrison
- The Sunlight on the Garden, by Louis MacNeice (Thanks Clive!)
- Soir d'hiver, par Émile Neilligan
- Romanska bågar, av Tomas Tranströmer