Guest poem sent in by Simon The Aldrich (Poem #1018) prompts me to suggest this one (can't believe you've only had one Elizabeth Jennings poem on Minstrels!)
(Poem #1019) A Performance of Henry V at Stratford-upon-Avon
Nature teaches us our tongue again And the swift sentences came pat. I came Into cool night rescued from rainy dawn. And I seethed with language - Henry at Harfleur and Agincourt came apt for war In Ireland and the Middle East. Here was The riddling and right tongue, the feeling words Solid and dutiful. Aspiring hope Met purpose in "advantages" and "He That fights with me today shall be my brother." Say this is patriotic, out of date. But you are wrong. It never is too late For nights of stars and feet that move to an Iambic measure; all who clapped were linked, The theatre is our treasury and too, Our study, school-room, house where mercy is Dispensed with justice. Shakespeare has the mood And draws the music from the dullest heart. This is our birthright, speeches for the dumb And unaccomplished. Henry has the words For grief and we learn how to tell of death With dignity. "All was as cold" she said "As any stone" and so, we who lacked scope For big or little deaths, increase, grow up To purposes and means to face events Of cruelty, stupidity. I walked Fast under stars. The Avon wandered on "Tomorrow and tomorrow". Words aren't worn Out in this place but can renew our tongue, Flesh out our feeling, make us apt for life.
I find this poem incredibly moving and evocative. Whenever I read it I think of trips to Stratford, the little footbridge over the Avon and the bright lights of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It also seems to me a fitting tribute to Elizabeth Jennings herself, who died last year. But (as with all of Jennings's poems) it also uses language in an incredibly precise way. The frequent alliteration drives the rhythm of the iambic pentameter and every word is perfectly chosen - "seethes with language"; "The riddling and right tongue, the feeling words"; and that fantastic final line, "Flesh out our feeling, make us apt for life." Simon Links: Biography of Jennings: [broken link] http://www.rcc.ait.ac.th/staff/suman/ElizabethJennings.html The previous Jennings poem on Minstrels: Poem #249, 'Delay' And yesterday's Aldrich poem: Poem #1018, 'At Stratford-Upon-Avon'