Poetry Teatime in My Family

Finlay teatime

Poetry Teatime in My Family

by Finlay Worrallo

For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head: —
‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,’ he said.

‘But why isn’t there anybody there?’ asked my little sister in some consternation. We were reading “The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare, and, caught up in the drama of the poem, she was quite emotional about the Traveller’s plight.

My family have enjoyed Poetry Teatime for years. When we began, we had multi-coloured cotton place mats and bone china, and we would read while sitting around the kitchen table. These days we’re more relaxed (and living in a different house) and drink from ordinary mugs and plates on our oak coffee table. We sometimes have muffins or cookies, but cake is always preferred.

We’ve got about twenty different poetry books, from the prestigious The Nation’s Favourite Poems, to the more modern The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry; from the battered Blue Peter Book of Odd Odes that my dad had as a child to a brand new copy of American Smooth that I bought two months ago.

Mum has never been afraid to challenge us with complex poetry, and there are many famous poems which we now greet as old friends. We all adore “The Road Not Taken” which we see as a metaphor for home education, a road that many people chose not to take. My little sister learned to read with the help of “The Owl and the Pussycat”, which she read every week for a good few months. We’ve all got our have favourites poems. My brother and sister are fond of comic poems, my mum reads lots of classics and I love ones full of rhyme and rhythm, so we usually have quite an eclectic mix to enjoy.

Poetry Teatime has always been very flexible in our family and is rarely the same on two different weeks. We’ve worked through entire cookery books and sampled countless muffins, cakes and cookies. We’ve had cake and poems outside on sunny days, and even in a parked car once! After doing a course on Elizabethan poetry, I led Poetry Teatime one week and showed that many famous poems are technically sonnets. We read “Ozymandias of Egypt” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Remember” by Christina Rosetti, “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen, and several more.

We’ve had many friends round for poetry tea – mostly other home educating families, but also neighbours and retired friends. It’s been fun to pass on something we’ve enjoyed to other people.

Before we started Poetry Teatime, I quite liked poetry. Now, there are hundreds of poems that I truly adore.

Image by Daniela Vladimirova (cc cropped, tinted)

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