I like it out here high above the sea bundledI discovered it a few years ago in an episode of the Writer's Almanac on NPR - that program is one of my secret pleasures when stuck in traffic on the way to work.
up for the arctic storms of late fall,
the resounding crash and moan of the sea,
the hundred foot depth of the green troughs.
With that committed to memory I had two poems of my original six still to learn, and they were a real pleasure as I had saved two favourites for the end. Ever since I first became fluent in Swedish more than 20 years ago I've wanted to learn some Swedish poetry; it has always seemed to me a very poetic language not just in how it sounds but in how it feels in my mouth when I speak it: rich, resonant, a bit complicated and occasionally tongue-twisting, and therein lies the challenge. It was Seamus Heaney who led me to the poet, Tomas Tranströmer, in the tribute he made in this video:
I settled on Tranströmer's poem Romanska bågar, not least because there is a recording of the poet himself reciting it on YouTube, so I had something to aim at. Learning it was not too difficult, and my Swedish daughter Emily corrected my worst mispronunciations (the last syllable of "människa" gave some troubles as did "solsjudande" where I had my usually difficulty with the "u" sound. I have struggles with "u" in both French and in Swedish - that flat Dublin accent will out).
So with that poem off by heart I finished off the sextet by learning the poem I heard Clive James recite and which inspired me: The Sunlight on the Garden by Louis MacNeice. The internal rhymes in this poem ring out as you speak it and make it easy to learn:
The sky was good for flyingThat's doom-laden and fantastic!
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying
Thanks to Clive James for many years of inspiration and, happily, it seems his health has stabilised a bit. He gave another interview just before Christmas and he was as interesting as ever.
And I've a new list of poems learn. This is so enjoyable, I should have started years ago.