My elocution teacher was a Kerrywoman - Mrs Slattery - and the classes mostly consisted of memorizing and reciting poetry. I adored it. Probably because of her, I still memorize any poems I really love. And in the shower and when washing up, places other people might hum or sing, I incant Yeats and Heaney and Ponsot, Beckett and Billy Collins and Elizabeth Bishop.
I think the last of the geese have flown or will soon. I love how they honk when they fly, ungainly and tone deaf and straining. And maybe I caught a glimpse of their vee in some early, oblique light and that's why this has been playing in my mind all week. It's by Mary Oliver.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
In the family of things.