Archives for posts with tag: National Poetry Day

Choosing just one poem to share today felt like such a daunting task. But then I remembered Elma Mitchell’s ‘This Poem’, which demonstrates so eloquently and succinctly the beauty and power of the poetic form.


This Poem

This poem is dangerous: it should not be left

Within the reach of children, or even of adults

Who might swallow it whole, with possibly

Undesirable side-effects. If you come across

An unattended, unidentified poem

In a public place, do not attempt to tackle it

Yourself. Send it (preferably in a sealed container)

To the nearest centre of learning, where it will be rendered

Harmless by experts. Even the simplest poem

May destroy your immunity to human emotions.

All poems must carry a government warning. Words

Can seriously affect your heart.


Elma Mitchell


…and as the day comes to a close, I want to share the poem that I have selected to mark the occasion, which is by Theodore Roethke.


I have know the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
Endless duplication of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.

Theodore Roethke