Still thinking about poems that have really resonated with me and made me come alive.
This is another one where I can remember the first time I heard it.
I was quite young – perhaps five or six – and at the end of year concert for our school, held in the Miner’s Institute in Collie. As with every concert, there were probably songs and dances and skits, but I don’t remember those. I don’t even remember what my own class did. But when my older sister’s class took the stage, I was entranced.
There they were, all those big girls (they were four years older than me!), on a darkened stage, each clutching a torch which, when they turned them on, illuminated their faces – because they were aimed upwards. Oooooh, clever. And then they recited their poem:
The night is very dark,
And we’ve to go a mile or so
Across the Possum Park.
Ooooh. Spooky. The poem proceeded, and I was hooked. This was a poem that had everything. Suspense, humour, word play, and some lovely rhyme and rhythm. As a five year old I didn’t analyse all of that, and of course didn’t remember much more of it except for the opening Hist!….Hark, but I loved it, completely. I even hoped – prayed – that one day I could stand up on that stage like those big girls and recite a poem like that one – actually, I wanted to do THAT ONE.
I loved (and still do) many more C. J. Dennis poems, and even got to memorise another which I loved almost as much, The Ant Explorer, but it was Hist! that continued to give that special thrill of a perfect poem every time I saw it or heard it. And when it was produced as a picture book, with amazing illustrations by Peter Gouldthorpe, I had to have it.
You can read the whole poem here.
What poems make you tingle?