Updated: Oct 13, 2019
This beautiful book, Dancing by the Light of the Moon by Gyles Brandreth, brings me so much joy. Not only is it a compendium of some of the greatest poems ever written but it is also a guide book on how to read and enjoy poems.
Often poetry seems out of reach or a bit too exclusive, and indeed many poets do aim for that kind of high brow intellectual snobbery, but Gyles Brandreth goes for the opposite approach. He wants everyone to enjoy and celebrate the joy of poetry.
Even more than that, the back cover of the book sets out his mission quite clearly,
Not only does it enhance literacy in the young, but learning poetry by heart is the one truly pleasurable things you can do to improve memory, boost brain power and beat cognitive decline as time goes by.
So not only is poetry enjoyable, it's GOOD for you.
The book contains some of my favourite poems of all time, but I still think that IF by Rudyard Kipling remains my all time favourite poem. It seems to get better and better the more that I sit with it. Here's just a couple of my favourite lines,
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same.
I can't emphasise enough the importance and benefits of getting lost in poetry, or even just simple rhyme. Don't worry about the intellectual stuff that goes above your head, don't feel frowned upon by the Poetry Police. Find a type of poet or form of poetry that resonates with you and read it, really read it, learn it, remember it, recite it.
For me, regardless of the many poets I have read throughout my life, it's still Dr.Seuss that makes my soul soar most. Those colourful characters, ludicrous landscapes and quirky rhythms, rhymes and beats first won me over as a child and have remained with me ever since.
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.
You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, 'I don't choose to go there.'
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.