Tag Archives: poetry

Canonical poetry, canonical essays, canonical quotations…

We would like to have the best words here in The Cellar-Door.

Antonius Angelus’s post inspired me to spiff up our Menu (currently sporting only “Home” and “About” pages) with a few additional items:

  • Canonical poetry. What’s the good poetry? I’ll include links to what’s been suggested so far, as well as anything else you suggest, unless your suggestions suck. “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” will top the list— ’tis only just.
  • Canonical essays. Long or short-form, on any topic. What has influenced you? What do you have saved in your bookmarks? What do you insist people read in order to “get” something? I’d say that it can be your own work, but that would blow your anonymity by sending something that shows up elsewhere on the web. Caveat scriptor.
  • Canonical quotes. Same deal. But, please…provide citations. There is so much apocryphal stuff out there.

If we get enough stuff in any one category, I’ll bust out some sweet subcategory menus like it’s 1998, and that’s a promise.


Cellarostian Poetry

I came across this interesting article from the Spectator:


This was seven months into my career as a poetry performer. During that time I’d memorised 150 poems and taken them to the streets. I recited to young and old, black and white, male and female, in East Anglia and London. Rejection is my most common experience. ‘Do you have a favourite poem?’ I ask and most often all this elicits is a ‘Sorry’ or ‘You’re asking the wrong person, mate.’ I’ve had a few more menacing responses but I’m yet to be assaulted.

Somehow, though, provided I don’t forget my lines, I earn money. My rate works out at around £12 an hour — considerably more than the minimum wage. When I’m successful, my performances are appreciated like a magic trick. People are shocked and gratified if I can recite the poem they name. I can now do all the most popular ones: Kipling’s ‘If —’, Auden’s ‘Funeral Blues’ (‘Stop all the clocks…’), Larkin’s ‘This Be The Verse’, Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’, Poe’s ‘The Raven’, Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’. I built this list up slowly over months of practice simply by asking. If three people mentioned the same poem on three separate occasions, I learnt it.

So, Cellarostians, do you have a favorite poem? What is the Cellar-Door poetical canon?