A National Poetry Day blog by Abbie Headon

For National Poetry Day, 3 October 2013, our in-house author and colleague Abbie Headon shares some thoughts on how poetry can help us in everyday life:

It’s a grey and rainy day today, here in Chichester at least. This might make us feel gloomy, especially after an unforgettable summer of heat and sunshine, but it’s absolutely perfect for celebrating the theme of this year’s National Poetry Day, which is ‘Water, water everywhere’.

Poetry can be a friend and helper in times of need. I think we’ve all experienced the power of poetry at key moments in our lives, whether it’s a love poem ever-so-carefully handwritten into a card and sent to the person we’ve just fallen madly in love with, or a sonnet read aloud at a funeral service, that manages to sum up deeply held emotions of love and grief mingled with hope and consolation in its fourteen brief lines. However, perhaps what we don’t realise so much is that poetry can help us with everyday problems and frustrations too. It’s a perfect form for expressing strong emotions in a short and structured way, and the fact that a poem can leave us guessing as to its exact meaning gives us a pleasurable space for thought and interpretation. Like a dog with a particularly good bone, we can return to a poem and savour its unique properties again and again, finding something new to delight us every time.

In my new book, Poetry First Aid Kit, I’ve tried to assemble a selection of poems that will comfort, console and inspire in a whole range of situations, from the serious to the silly, from coping with heartbreak to finding inspiration for tonight’s dinner. But for today, I felt it was appropriate to share a poem that can help you to see the beauty of a rainy day, and all the wonderful things that rain brings to us:

from The Cloud

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,

From the seas and the streams;

I bear light shade for the leaves when laid

In their noonday dreams.

From my wings are shaken the dews that waken

The sweet buds every one,

When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,

As she dances about the sun.

I wield the flail of the lashing hail,

And whiten the green plains under,

And then again I dissolve it in rain,

And laugh as I pass in thunder.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

For more information, see the following links:

Poetry First Aid Kit

Abbie’s Twitter page

National Poetry Day