Poetry is a powerful medium which cuts directly to universal feelings, thoughts and potentially speaks the language of the heart. At the same time it involves extremely personal associations and culture, class, age and temperament play their part in what is enjoyed. It can provide an invisible bridge of understanding for shaky times. I also think it best appreciated in small doses of time.
Within this booklet below are some poems that work for me. There is no reason that a person later in life will be drawn particularly to a type or style of poetry though there might be an enjoyment of the rhythm involved in some. If you or the person involved can remember the first verse of a poem then that can be a positive experience in itself! As with music, I have noticed that there is something calming in the repetition of recurring sets of sounds which can make for a deeper appreciation of the meaning.
If you can remember the first verse of a poem then this is a good start! Reading poetry can be an engaging and powerful experience whether it is reciting aloud or listening passively in company. Poetry can be a focus for the beginning or ending of a Reminiscence group. A facilitator could punctuate a session with poetry as a way of expanding a topic. Do see this Corona inspired website created in July 2020 that allows you to take away a gift of a poem through a rainbow process uniquely for you:
See link to Poem Hunter which allows you to hunt for any poem under title/genre/subject: https://www.poemhunter.com/
Click on the image with the poem to link to Amazon to purchase MP3, book or CD. You Tube links will take you to other ways of appreciating the poem or poet. To help you on your search for what you respond to, please see this link: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Ages-Anthology-Poetry-Music/dp/9626341890
Scroll down further to discover Haiku poetry and see images to inspire!
There are several ways that sharing poetry with someone who might be house bound, bed bound or in a very limited world due to the dementia can bring the person out of their circumstances. Poems can be read to someone or read by them and poems can also lead on to discussion on why something is enjoyed or memories that it might evoke. No one is ever too old for new poems!
Try an audio book such as this one [click below] which has a huge range of poems read by well-known actors. Go to Amazon where you will find no shortage of other options if this is too narrow a range for your purposes.
Lewis Carroll” open=”no”]
You are old , Father William’ the young man said
‘And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head-
Do you think, at your age, it is right?’
In my youth Father William
Replied to his son,
I feared it might injure the brain:
But now that I’m perfectly sure I
Why I do it again and again
‘You are old’ said the youth ‘as
I have mentioned before,
And have grown most
Yet you turned a back-
somersault in at the door-
Pray, what is the reason of that?’
‘In my youth’ said the sage, as
He shook his grey locks,
‘I kept all my limbs very supple#
By the use of this ointment- one
Shilling the box-
Allow me to sell you a couple?’
‘You are old’ said the youth,
‘and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet:
Yet you finished the goose, with
The bones and the beak-
Pray, how did you manage to do
‘In my youth’ said his father, ‘I
Took to the law,
And argued each case with my
And the muscular strength
Which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.’
‘You are old’ said the youth,
‘One would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as
Yet you balanced an eel on the
End of your nose-
What made you so awfully clever?
‘I have answered three
questions, and that is enough,’
Said his father; ‘don’t give
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you downstairs!’
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning : but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midmight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more
Pity would be no more
If we did not make somebody poor:
And Mercy no more could be
If all were as happy as we.
And mutual fear brings peace
Till the selfish loves increase;
Then Cruelty knits a snare,
And spreads his baits with care
He sits down with holy fears
And waters the ground with tears
Then Humility takes its root
Underneath his foot.
Soon spreads the dismal shade
Of Mystery over his head;
And the caterpillar and fly
Feed on the Mystery.
And it bears the fruit of Deceit,
Ruddy and sweet to eat;
And the raven his nest has made
In its thickest shade,
The gods of the earth and sea
Sought thro’ nature to find this tree;
But their search was all in vain;
There grows one in the human brain
When the voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast
And everything else is still
Then come home my children, the sun is gone down
And the dews of night arise
Come come leave off play, and let us away
Till the morning appears in the skies
No no let us play, for it is yet day
And we cannot go to sleep
Besides in the sky, the little birds fly
And the hills are all covered with sheep
Well we’ll go and play till the light fades away
And then go home to bed
The little ones leaped and shouted and laugh’d
And all the hills echoed.
My new religion would be silence
And its hymns would be
The song of birds, the sound
Of waves breaking on a shingle shore,
The wind soughing through the trees.
It’s prayers would be offered to the stillness
Deep within, that there a man
Might find himself,
And live in harmony
With all his fragile world,
It’s worship would be listening,
Wherever one might be,
Through all the noise and fret of life,
For the still sound of the turning earth
On it’s lonely journey, out among the stars.
If the person has already had an interest or love of poetry and is still able to read then find out more from them about why they like their poems. This links to an excellent site that allows you to select any poem by subject or author.
The site below has thousands of poems organised by theme for adult and child. Some of the poem’s themes are family, humour, nature, sad love, friendship, death, holidays, love, spiritual love and teen issues. There is also a section on techniques of writing poetry with rhyme ideas, poetic forms, and how to write a haiku, stanzas, and a poem template!
There are so many poems and poets but to help you on your search for what you respond to please see this link:
For those who think that they or their later in life person would be up to the challenge of Haiku, this could be a meaningful place to put their attention. A discussion on what a Haiku is and a few examples read aloud to each other and then a promise of daring to display what comes up for both of you at a future date. To create one may need a bit of space and time alone.
A Haiku should consist only of essential words making a total of seventeen syllables [sounds]. These are divided into three lines of:
Five syllables, Seven Syllables, Five Syllables.
Well trained suitcases
Follow their owners across
Shined station concourse
Serena [age 75] says: ‘I find Haiku the best way to capture some of the fleeting images that present themselves with all their intensity and richness in the local countryside.’
Up, down, Jenny Wren
Bounces- she crosses the stream
over my shadow.
Sparkled Spider’s web
Dowager’s necklace hanging
on a park railing.
In the field- two lambs.
Through the mist- a sequined flash.
Yes, a kingfisher.
You can find out more about Haiku here