23 – Roses are red, is poetry dead?

Sounds like a weird idea, but I thought it would be fun to learn some poetry. I’m actually not a massive fan of poetry really. I do know a couple of silly ones and limericks and one that I learnt for a year 7 poetry reading contest (which we won btw, thank you for the £30 WHSmith vouchers). Here’s one of my favourites:

“I dig,

You dig,

We dig,

She digs,

He digs,

They all dig,

It’s not a very good poem but it is deep.”

I was actually reading a book in the week and there was a long poem in the front that I quite liked. So I thought it was a pretty good challenge to try to learn it.

This is the poem:

One day through the primeval wood
A calf walked home as good calves should;

But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead.


But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day,
By a lone dog that passed that way;

And then a wise bell-wether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,

And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell-wethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade.
Through those old woods a path was made.


And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about,

And uttered words of righteous wrath,
Because ‘twas such a crooked path;

But still they followed—do not laugh—
The first migrations of that calf,

And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.


This forest path became a lane,
that bent and turned and turned again;

This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load

Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.

And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.


The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;

And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare.

And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;

And men two centuries and a half,
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.


Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed the zigzag calf about

And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.

A Hundred thousand men were led,
By one calf near three centuries dead.

They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;

For thus such reverence is lent,
To well established precedent.


A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;

For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,

And work away from sun to sun,
To do what other men have done.

They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,

And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move.

But how the wise old wood gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf.

Ah, many things this tale might teach—
But I am not ordained to preach.

As you can see, it is quite a long poem. I gave it a real good go. I managed to get through it mostly word for word by the end of the week but I didn’t ‘own’ it if you get me. Those of you who perform understand the difference between knowing something and ‘KNOWING’ something. The difference between the two is huge in the way you perform it. This, I felt like I could recite with lots of thought, but not as second nature and now I’ve forgotten most of it.

Was it a good challenge? I think so. It wasn’t life changing but it was about putting effort into something I don’t usually do. I’m sure it was beneficial to do something for my mind that wasn’t just looking at a screen too, so that’s always a bonus. I probably won’t do this again, unless a silly one catches my attention, but I did enjoy it more than I thought I would.


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