Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Poetry Please - benches for National Poetry Day


Do you mind if I put up a poetry park bench in your mind? 

It's National Poetry Day on Thursday so I've asked some of my family and friends to show us their favourite poetry benches.

His Excellency, one of my husbands, has chosen this bench with a poem by e.e. cummings 


Mungo, my imaginary husband: I can't read it. The print is too small. 

Miggy, my imaginary best friend: You haven't used capital letters for the poet's name.

Come on, Migs, you need to get into a poetic frame of mind here. Capital letters aren't needed for poetry. Besides, they're soooooo last century. 

Mungo: Can't read a word of it. 

Dear Mungo, you're not meant to read it. It's the bench that's important, rather than the poems. 

A bench is a place for poets and writers to express themselves.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/iammadforit/3328640406


So, to quote the words of the poet/songwriter Everette Maddox, 

Do you mind if
I put up a park bench
in your mind?





Poems can be inscribed on a bench in a formal way . . . 


http://www.flickr.com/photos/tinhutjohn/


. . .or in an informal way, so that the bench becomes a writer's page.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/lr/3891019918

Mungo: I can't read the handwriting. 

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly: This is graffiti by any other name. It's wanton vandalism. They want flogging if you ask me. 

It's poetry, Lord B! You don't flog poets. Poetry is the language of beauty and romance. 

His Excellency: I like the classics. I'm thinking of the lovers Acme and Septimius. 

Vidit, quis Venerem auspicatiorem?



http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leighton,_Frederic

Yes, who has seen a more favoured love? 

Mungo: Not me. I can't see any poem here at all. It just looks like a couple of people snogging on a bench. 

It's the spirit of the poet in evidence here. A bench with a poem on it: how brilliant is that!

Mungo: Not brilliant if I can't see it. 

Meredith, my feline editor: Cats have an affinity with poetry. Here is The Cat and His Poet.




You're right, Meredith. Lots of poets love their cats. And their benches. Here is a poet and his cat outside a poetry cafe in Amsterdam.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/dannybirchall/4182276157


Meredith: It's not a poet and his cat. It's a cat and his poet.

Poetry benches are such fun! For example, here's a sweet little haiku about a hot dog:


https://www.flickr.com/photos/ghm575/7721496284

Meredith: It's d-o-g. 

Lord Brassica: It's vandalism. Mindless vandalism. 

Mungo: I'm struggling to read it. Something about a hamburger . . . 

OK, I see you guys don't appreciate creative street art. You're taking the road more travelled by I guess.



See what I did there? This is Robert Frost, the American poet who famously stopped by the woods on a snowy evening.

Mungo: Evening? It looks like daytime to me.

Lord Brassica: Call me short-sighted but I don't see any snow.

Never mind. Here is a very serene poetry bench from Japan.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihonbunka/7193294328

Mungo: It's in Japanese.

Yes, we are going to see poems in lots of different languages on benches. That's because poetry speaks to people all around the world. 

Here is a whole park full of poetry in Istanbul.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/georgethechief/426656558

His Excellency: It's a very long poem and it looks like the first line of it is a couple of miles away.

Here is a much shorter poem from France. It's elegant and simple.

 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/austinevan/2507176944


Mungo: I did woodwork at school. I can't read French. 

His Excellency: Doesn't the word village give you a clue?

You don't have to read a poem to appreciate its aesthetic qualities though, do you?


https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcboon/7255756708

Mungo: I guess I could ring the phone number and ask them to explain it. 

A poem shouldn't have to be explained; it should be felt


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lawrence_Alma-Tadema

Mungo: I can't feel anything since I can't understand it.

OK, ask me no more

Here's a poem in English, with big writing, on the back of a bench. 


https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/5954446262

Mungo: Nice. I can certainly relate to the middle line of this one.

Lord Brassica: It doesn't rhyme.

It doesn't have to rhyme, Lord B. A poem is often defined as the best words in the right order. The best words might not be rhyming ones. 

Miggy: Yeah, it's a bit like benches. The best benches are in the right place.

Well said, Migs. 

Miggy: I found this poetry bench when I was out walking in the countryside. 


https://www.flickr.com/photos/manicstreetpreacher/458224270

Lord Brassica: Looks like a boardwalk I'd put up over a boggy field.

It's a poem about farming, Lord B. You work the land for life so I think you'll appreciate its sentiments: 

The plod of foot and hoof/the cut of blade in earth


https://www.flickr.com/photos/manicstreetpreacher/458224270

Lord Brassica: I like poems that rhyme.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrshall/

Mungo: I suppose you are going to say rhyme is so last century too?

Well, no, not exactly. Lots of people like rhyming verses on commemorative benches.




Tamsin, our very sweet neighbour: Oh, this is lovely! I wish I could die so I could have a poem like this. 

You'll like this one, Tamsin. 



https://www.flickr.com/photos/valeriebb/6114395753

Tamsin: My fiance Garcon Orange is sort of a poet.





Well, yes, Tamsin, I can see how writing on the roof of your house is a poetic act. 

Tamsin: It's not as romantic as Troy and Lady B though. He reads poetry to her out in the boat.




Miggy:  Apparently his love is like a red red rose that's newly sprung in June


 And her love is like a melody that's sweetly played in tune.

Mungo: Sounds familiar. Do all the seas gang dry by any chance? 

I have a feeling they might.  

A lot of countries have their own famous poets. Here is Julian Tuwim from Poland 



and Brendan Behan from Ireland.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/6798486630

This is Antun Gustave Matos from Zagreb. 

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antun_Gustav_Mato 

His Excellency: This chap looks like he's waiting for inspiration.

Yes, a bench is a good place to sit and muse.

This is the poet Carmen Conde from Cartagena in Spain.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carmen_Conde

Tamsin: Wow, I didn't know women could be poets!

You need to broaden your horizons, Tamsin.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/22027022@N00/443874330

Women have been writing poetry for centuries. Here are a few lines from the poet Sappho who wrote in the 7th century BC.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/shinyredtype/115690287

Sappho and her friends sat on their benches listening to the poet Alcaeus on the island of Lesbos.  


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sappho_and_Alcaeus.jpg

Lord Brassica: Lesbos. Hmmm. That rings a bell.

Tamsin: I think it's near Drizzly.

His Excellency: This painting is a cracker! 

Mungo: They knew how to make a nice bench in the seventh century. 

Lord Brassica: Good looking women, too.

In England, our best known poet is The Bard. Here is his bench near the Globe Theatre in London, where his plays are still performed. 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdpettitt/14577245886

Mungo: A bench by any other name would look as sweet.

His Excellency: I think you'll find it's a rose.

Tamsin: Garcon says his love is kind of like a red, red rose. 

Oh, not roses again. I'd like to see roses banned from poetry.

Miggy: I grew up in Scotland where we celebrate Burns Night by addressing the haggis. 

Here's Rabbie's best known poem, on a bench in Dumfries. 



Lord Brassica: That's more like it. A poem that's properly set out in verse. A pity it doesn't rhyme though.

It does rhyme, Lord B! It's an ABAB rhyming scheme. Look: June and tune. I and dry

Lord Brassica: By jove I think you're right. This fellow needs some help with spelling though. Marks off for luve and bonie

Meredith, my feline editor: This is not an editing error. It's the Scots spelling.

Here's a Gaelic poem, dedicated to passing walkers. 


 © Copyright David Wild for Geograph  

Miggy: A stravaiger is someone who wanders aimlessly. 

Meredith: I know a lot of dogs like that. 

Mungo: Writing's too small. 

Lord Brassica: I can't make heads or tails of it. What is 'nae'? Sounds like my horse Tonks asking for his supper.

Moving swiftly on.

People have favourite places so a poetry bench is a good way to mark a sense of place. 

This poet loved Hampstead Heath in London.


http://www.hampsteadheath.net/benches-.html   

Mungo: If he loved it that much, why did he move to Somerset?

I'm not sure, Mungo. I don't know the guy. I'm just showing that people use benches to record their fondness for a place. 

A tiny place called Adlestrop is the setting for a very famous poem by Edward Thomas. 

Miggy: Yes, I remember Adlestrop. 


© Copyright Graham Horn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

His Excellency: Me too. All the birds of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Mungo: Sorry, I can't hear them. Can't see them either. 

They're not in the photo, they're in the poem. In poetry, you have to use your imagination. 


https://www.flickr.com/photos/68777870@N00/368568190

Mungo: Try as I might, I can't imagine a doll-sized city.

What about this one from Shrewsbury then. It's a small city but not doll-sized.

His Excellency: This poet seems to have fallen out of love with Shrewsbury.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/89276681@N00/5815977582

Yes, so beautiful yet so sad

Now picture the sea. 

Two verses of WH Auden's poem On This Island appears on a bench on the Isle of Wight.





And further up the hill from here there's a monument to Lord Tennyson, along with some very welcome benches to rest on after the long climb.



Tamsin: I like romantic poems. 

Let me count the ways?

Tamsin: You can count them if you like. 

Innocent, a fashion model: I prefer poems which are like me.




What, very thin?

Innocent: No, sexy and seductive.


https://www.flickr.com/photos/hnguitarist/5391884842

Yes, through the ages poetry has been used to charm and impress. 


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Federico_Andreotti

Innocent: This guy is too retro for me. I've just been to Milan and I didn't see any fashions like this in the AW2014 collection. I prefer someone more on-trend.

You might like this poem, Innocent. It's about clothes.



https://www.flickr.com/photos/antanask/218262274

Innocent: I wouldn't keep someone's smelly old clothes.

My friends and neighbours seem to be missing the point here. I think I'm wasting my time showing them these lovely poetry benches.

His Excellency: I like something classical which stands the test of time.

Mungo: I like something short and easy to understand. 

Lord Brassica: As I said, I like something with a bit of rhyme.

Tamsin: Me too. This is my favourite poem.


http://badrabbitvintage.blogspot.co.uk/

Well, Tamsin, you're a star. 

Finally, a poem everybody likes. 

                                     Happy National Poetry Day! 



Credits

Here on Benchsite we like to celebrate all kinds of Days. We're lucky that in October it's poetry day benches but there are equally worthy bench days, such as International Toilet Day, World Book Day, World Peace DayDog Day, Cat DayDance Day, Ice Cream Day and, very recently, Punctuation Day


Mind if I put up/a park bench/in your mind? is from the poem Park Bench by Everette Maddox (1944-1989). Maddox came to New Orleans in 1975 as Poet in Residence and he was a well known figure at The Maple Leaf. The Everette C. Maddox Memorial Prose & Poetry Reading is still held every Sunday in the courtyard at The Maple Leaf and is the longest running poetry reading in North America. The poet's ashes are buried in the bar's patio area.  The red bench at start of the story is from Reykjavik, photographed by Helgi Haldorsson aka Freddi, at https://www.flickr.com/photos/8058853@N06/2731658126

John McCrae's famous war poem is In Flanders Fields. The poem is a rondeau, written during the World War I by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a physician from Guelph, Ontario. He wrote the poem on May 3, 1915, after his friend and fellow soldier died in the Second Battle of Ypres. First published in London in December 1915, it is one of the most popular and most quoted war poems. McCrae survived the WWI battles but died of pnemonia in a military hospital in Flanders in January 1918. The Delaware Legion cenotaph bench was photographed by TinhutJohn, otherwise known as John P Sargeant. It is one of thousands of cenotaph photos taken for his photostream at
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tinhutjohn/


Tony Fischer of Tony Fischer Photography found the e.e. cummings bench alongside a tributary of the Willamette River off Route 34 in Oregon.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonythemisfit/3089830228This bench photograph appears in 14 Flickr groups and has drawn a lot of interest.  Edward Estlin Cummings (1894 – 1962) was a popular and important poet of the 20th century, best known for his unconventional structures and his name. However, he did not, apparently, legally change his name to e e and at different times, he used both lowercase and capital letters for his name.  

His Excellency is one of my two husbands. He is a philosopher and a man who takes an interest in many subjects, apart from chemistry. Mungo, my imaginary husband, is my travelling companion and soulmate but he is not a great lover of poetry. He blames this on his schooling, which focused mostly on woodwork. For more about my two husbands and their education see http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/workbench-wonders-two-husbands-lots-of.html


Anne-Sophie Ofrim is an amateur photographer from Oslo. She photographed the Writer's Bench in Vaterland, Oslo, in 2009. https://www.flickr.com/photos/iammadforit/3328640406 It looks like a great bench to be inspired on, though I'd probably wait for the snow to melt. Anne-Sophie's photostream contains a lot of very colourful photos of signs and graffiti. 

Lauren Rauk photographed the bench with the handwritten poem in Italy in 2009. It says: Your sea is calm/as the very blue sky.  Previously a professional photographer, Lauren is a recent graduate of sciences Po Master of Public Affairs and she says her skills are for hire. She currently lives in Paris but home is wherever she lays her head. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lr/3891019918


The English painter and sculptor Sir Frederic Leighton (1830-1896) painted Acme and Septimius, an oil on canvas, in about 1868. Like many of his other works, it depicts historical, biblical and classical subjects. The painting is from the love poem of the same name, which was written by Gaius Valeruis Catullus, who lived from 84 to 54BC. The painting now hangs in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and is in the public domain.  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leighton,_Frederic_-_Acme_and_Septimius_-_c._1868.jpg?uselang=en-gb  Besides his art work, Leighton is known for having the shortest hereditary peerage, as he died the day after receiving it. 



The Cat and His Poet was photographed in 2013 by Zlaping in Szombathely in Hungary.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/zlaping/9299403501 Zlaping describes himself as a dillettante. He has visited 31 US States, plus a lot of other countries as well. The poet referred to is Sandor Veres (Sandor Weöres, (1913-1989) an Hungarian poet and translator. The sculpture is by Veres Gabor. My cat editor Meredith can show you some gorgeous cat benches.

The man with a red scarf was photographed outside a poetry cafe in Amsterdam by Danny Birchall in 2009.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/dannybirchall/4182276157  We're going to assume he's a poet. That's the man with the red scarf, not Danny. Danny has travelled widely and has amazing albums full of Signs and Wonders from a variety of fascinating places. 

The pink hotdog haiku bench is from the Guerilla Haiku Movement in 2012.   https://www.flickr.com/photos/ghm575/7721496284  GHM says: We believe that joy/like the art of haiku must/be spread, in chalkdust. To this
 aim they present poems on pavements, on buildings and, of course, on benches. I totally approve, whether Lord Brassica likes it or not.The words of the haiku on the pink bench are: Hotdogs with ketchup/Hot potatoes filled with cheese/Hamburgers with buns. There you go: a poem small enough to fit in a bun! GHM's website is at www.ghm575.org

The photo of the bronze statue of Robert Frost sitting on a sandstone bench is by Wally Gobetz, who lives in Jersey City. https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/4934001044 The Frost statue is at the Ekstrand Sculpture Plaza, at the University of Colorado in Boulder.  Dedicated in 1997, it depicts the favourite poet of Bruce Ekstrand, a former vice chancellor of the university. It was designed by George Lundeen.

The large black stone with the Japanese poem was photographed by Timothy Takemoto, who is from London but now lives in Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nihonbunka/7193294328  Alongside this photograph he presents some interesting ideas about Japanese tourism and ways of seeing and interpreting sights. As for the black stone and the poem, Timothy explains that this is the birthplace of Yamao Youzou, a young revolutionary, who studied engineering in London and Scotland towards the end of the nineteenth century. He came back to Japan to lead the Westernization of its technology education, founding what is now the engineering department of the University of Tokyo. Timothy Takemoto has translated the poem as follows:

At the end of a long journey
Which is the heart
Is Japan

はるかなる心のすえはやまとなる

There are some fascinating Japanese benches at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/spring-comes-to-fribble-via-japan.html


George Seidelman says he is incredible; I'll take his word for it. He certainly knows his benches. His hometown is Lexington, Kentucky, though he currently lives in Berlin. In 2007 he photographed the long rows of poetry book benches in a park in Istanbul. But this is just the beginning. His photostream is full of photographs of interesting street furniture in lots of different places. He even has an organisational chart for all these categories, and a photograph of the chart, which I found poetic in itself  .https://www.flickr.com/photos/georgethechief/426656558

Evan Bench has a fantastic eye for interesting subjects, not just benches. He took a number of photographs of street poetry in Lyon, France, in 2008. https://www.flickr.com/photos/austinevan/2507176944  I chose just one of them, which is translated as:
My Village
My "almost" Island
My Archipelago
My Hill



Marco Bono travels widely in China and the Chinese bench poem shown was photographed in Xiamen in 2012. https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcboon/7255756708  Marco's recent photos from Mongolia are full of splendid sights such as the Tengger desert, camels, cats, sand, and unique views of life in China. 


The beautiful painting Ask Me No More is by Victorian painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) who worked as a contemporary of Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate in England from 1850-1892.   http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lawrence_Alma-Tadema_-_Ask_Me_No_More.jpg?uselang=en-gb  Alma-Tadema was born in the Netherlands but became a UK citizen and worked in England. Painted oil on canvas in 1906, Ask Me No More is a line from Tennyson's poem The Princess


Ask me no more: the moon may draw the sea;
      The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the shape,
         With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape;
But O too fond, when have I answer'd thee?
                Ask me no more

Alma-Tadema also painted Sappho and Alceaus in 1881. The benches in this painting, on the island of Lesbos, are very elegant. The painting is in the Walters Art Museum and can be seen at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sappho_and_Alcaeus.jpg

Elvert Barnes, from Maryland, has been photographing since 1992. In 2011 he photographed a poetry bench project in Bethesda. The Bethesda Circulator Route Poetry Benches Project includes many delightful bench poems. The poem bench I have chosen is I am young and filled with glee by Alexa April. The bench was designed by artist Bodil Meleney.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/5954446262


Simon Li is a software engineer from Birmingham, currently living in Dundee. He photographed the Ridge and Furrow bench poem in 2007 along the National Cycle Route in South Oxfordshire.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/manicstreetpreacher/458224270
The Ridge and Furrowbench was designed by John Applegarth. I love both its design and the poem. Plod, foot, hoof: what a magical sound comes from this clever use of words.

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is a gentleman farmer. However, it has emerged that he doesn't know as much as you'd think about farm animal benches, especially cow benches or sheep benches.  He knows a bit more about horse benches, learned from his horse Tonks, and possibly something about dog benches from his dog Pru. What he really knows though, is picnic benches

The Kathleen Root bench is in Seacroft Garden, Southwold in Suffolk, photographed in 2007 by Habitat Girl from Atlanta. The lines are from a much-loved poem called Leisure, by William Harvey Davies: What is this life if, full of care/We have no time to stand and stare. This featured on a previous Benchsite story about memorial benches. Habitat Girl is well travelled, as shown in her 85 sets of fabulous photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrshall/ She describes her occupation as a chief handwringer. 

If tears could build a stairway/and memories a lane is a much-loved verse for plaques on memorial benches. I photographed this one in Minehead in Somerset.

Valerie Everett is from Logansport, USA. Her photostream is full of interesting benches, including the Comfort Bench with the memorial poem on it. https://www.flickr.com/photos/valeriebb/6114395753


Ławeczka Tuwima, also known as Julian Tuwim (1894-1953) was a poet from Lodz in Poland. His bench statue is by sculptor Wojciech Gryniewicz, made in 1998. The poet on his bench was photographed by Jarek Miszczak, who lives in Lodz.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/jarekmiszczak/2214648805

To celebrate St. Patrick's Day we've got a lot of Irish poets here on Benchsite, and a lot of Irish benches. Brendan Behan  (1923 – 1964) was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both English and Irish. He was also known for his witty quotations and for his heavy drinking (I only drink on two occasions — when I am thirsty and when I'm not).  His bench is at the second lock on the Royal Canal at theDorset Street bridge in Dublin, where he is depicted in conversation with a bird on a bench. The 2012 photo is by William Murphy, a computer scientist from Dublin, who has a project of photographing Dublin street life.   https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/6798486630

Poet Antun Gustav Matoš looks like a splendid fellow. He appeared on a previous Benchsite blog about Europe. Matos (1873-1914) was a Croatian poet who now sits on a bench at Strossmayer promenade in Zagreb. The sculpture was made by Ivan Kožarić in 1978. It was photographed in 2007 by greenmelinda, who lives in Boston and describes herself as a writer, of sorts. She has a nice set of photos from Croatia on her Flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/thegreengirl/ The photo is also on wikimedia at  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antun_Gustav_Mato%C5%A1_statue_in_front.jpg?uselang=en-gb   

Carmen Conde (1907-1996) was a poet, teacher and writer from Cartagena in Spain. A bench with her life size statue was created by sculptor Juan José Quirós and inaugurated in 2007, the centennary of her birth. The bench is in El Carmen Street in Cartagena and it was photographed by GlimmerPhoenix in 2011  and made available on Wikimedia at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carmen_Conde_statue.jpg?uselang=en-gb

Tamsin is a local girl who is very sweet but she has a rather strange perspective on things, especially benches.She is engaged to Garcon Orange and has a baby named Isambard Kevin, named after the builder of benches bridges. Tamsin loves poems, and romantic stories, like the one about white benches told by Ursula, our Unicorn in Residence. 


Have you seen a horizon lately? was photographed by Laura Lo Forti, a multimedia producer from New York. She found the memorial plaque on a bench in Central Park in 2007. https://www.flickr.com/photos/22027022@N00/443874330 The date is 2001 and as Laura says, you can spend hours contemplating the stories behind the benches. In fact, I was so curious that I googled Gianfranco Mantegna (1939-2001), who was an Italian-born photographer and a member of the Living Theatre in the 1960s. I'm guessing this memorial is for him. 

Kat Selvocki loves unique eyewear, Fluevogs, adventures, interesting people, and the color red. A yoga teacher from Brooklyn, Kat, photographed the Evening Star who gathers everything bench at the Central Park Zoo in New York. https://www.flickr.com/photos/shinyredtype/115690287  The poem is from Sappho, who lived and wrote in the 7th century BC on the Greek island of Lesbos. For more Greek benches see benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/greek-bench-mission-impossible.html

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is England's best known bard, loved the world over for his verses and plays. Hundreds of quotations from his plays and poems have come into everyday use: We have seen better days; I'll not budge an inch; that's the long and short of it.  The bench shown was photographed outside the Globe Theatre in London in summer 2014, part of the Books About Town project. www.booksabouttown.org.uk  The photographer is Martin Pettitt, from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdpettitt/14577245886


Freddie Phillips lives in the Lake District, where he is Summoned by Fells. https://www.flickr.com/photos/summonedbyfells/6800086034 
He's keen on cycling, long distance walking and bivi-nights under the stars. On a trip to Dumfries he visited Robert Burns's House in Burns Street, Dumfries, where he photographed Burns's much-loved Red Red Rose Poem. It's beautiful, easy to read, incredibly romantic, and it rhymes; what's not to like? 

Stravaiger’s Rest is a poem on a granite stone near the River Cree in in Dumfries and Galloway. It was photographed by David Wild for Geograph. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stone_seat_-_geograph.org.uk_-_167801.jpg?uselang=en-gb A stravaiger is a sort of aimless wanderer and the stone is wishing well to all who pass it. The bench is next to a layby on the A75 near the River Cree. 

My husband Mungo is from a large Scottish family so I just had to include some benches in a story about three Scottish weddings last summer.  

I once lived in a top floor flat in north London and Hampstead Heath was my garden. It's a glorious place full of woods, ponds, heathland, people, and benches. There is a wonderful website devoted to Hampstead Heath and one of their recent stories was about the Heath's benches.   http://www.hampsteadheath.net/benches-.html   Apparently there is a long waiting list to get a bench dedicated on Hampstead Heath, so no wonder Ben W. put one up for himself before he moved to Somerset. 


Adlestrop is a tiny village in the Cotswolds in the heart of England, the setting for a famous poem by Edward Thomas. Yes, I remember Adlestrop. It's about a train journey and a moment of exquisite stillness as the train stops at this rural station on a summer afternoon. Though the train no longer stops here, there is a bus stop with a bench and a plaque. It was photographed by Graham Horn for Geograph in 2007 © Copyright Graham Horn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence   And here is a link where you can see the brilliance of the full poem. http://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/Classic%20Poems/Thomas%20E/adlestrop.htm  

David Leverton, aka Velvet Android, photographed the doll-sized city poem bench in 2007. The doll-sized city is not Brooklyn, New York but Brooklyn Hill in Wellington, New Zealand, where he was living at the time. David says he often walked past the benches of the Wellington Writers' Walk and he knew some of the poems word-for-word. He enjoyed tracking down all the benches, which you can see in his photographic collection at  https://www.flickr.com/photos/68777870@N00/368568190   His blogspot is at http://tigersharkpublishing.blogspot.co.uk/

Shrewsbury breaks my heart - so beautiful, so sad is a poem on a river bench near the English Bridge in Shrewsbury in Shropshire. It was photographed by The Snige in 2011.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/89276681@N00/5815977582 The Snige owns a nice camera and he loves looking at other people's photos. Snige says that sometimes the photos are so fantastic he feels he should just put his camera away as he could never reach such brilliance, but most of the time it inspires him to try harder. 


On This Island is a very famous poem by WH Auden. Though there is no evidence that it was written on the Isle of Wight, the view from the bench over the Solent and Alum Bay is a fitting scene for the words of the poem. A poetry bench was erected here in 2011 by Shore Women, a group of writers from the Isle of Wight. You can see benches from the Isle of Wight on this blog, but don't confuse them with benches from Paradise Island

The word Poem written on the hand is a photograph by hn guitarist at  https://www.flickr.com/photos/hnguitarist/5391884842  It refers to one of the most controversial poems of all time, Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, read in 1955 and first published in 1956. The long narrative poem provoked an obscenity trial in 1957 due to its frank references to drugs and sexuality, however the judge ruled that the poem was not obscene. The poem begins: I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked/   OK, it's not a bench poem but what would a poetry blog be worth if it didn't include Howl?


The Poem is a rococco revivalist painting by the Italian painter Federico Andreotti (1847-1930). It is one of many paintings of beautiful women in garden settings. The reader of the poem in this painting certainly seems to have made a favourable impression on the two women. The painting is in the public domain due to expired copyright and is available on the amazing wikimedia at  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Federico_Andreotti_-_The_Poem.jpg?uselang=en-gb  

Lady Jessica Brassica is married to Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, however she seems to have fallen for the poem-reading Troy, who arrived in Fribble-under-Par just recently. Whatever have they been getting up to in her beach hut this summer ? And what of Innocent, her jealous daughter-in-law? For a quick guide to my friends and neighbours in Fribble see http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/whos-who-in-fribble-under-par.html

Antanas Kaziliunas is a yoga teacher from Vilnius in Lithuania. He took the photo of the I keep your clothes poem, written by poet and conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. A bench with the poem is in the garden of the  Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/antanask/218262274    


The twinkle twinkle little star school bench is from Daena at Bad Rabbit Vintage.  http://badrabbitvintage.blogspot.co.uk/  Daena lives in southern Oregon and does original hand-painted furniture with attitude. Her work has been featured on lots of blogs and websites and her own blog is full of joy and inspiration. She shows you the furniture and what she does, and how, and why she does it. There are cute kitties, stools, benches and, of course, Bad Rabbits. Have we got rabbit benches on Benchsite? We certainly have! And school benches too.


Benchsite is a very literary blog site so keep an eye out for brilliant book benches and library benches. There is much poetry spread throughout Benchsite and you'll find parts of poems and even some whole poems on many of the blogs. For a poem about animal benches see Noah's Ark; it rhymes! So does this poem about a path at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/cassies-seat-bench-poem-path.html  If you don't need rhyme and you like swimming, try http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/my-swimming-bench.html  Interested in Lord Tennyson? See http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/margaret-on-bench.html



2 comments:

  1. Shelley, you are one crazy, brilliant lady!!! Your critics/neighbours/familiars are a bit on the stuffy side, or bonkers. Well done for keeping your patience with them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, if I had but world enough, and time, their silly comments would be no crime.

    But I was up against it on the deadline for National Poetry Day so as it is, I feel I was particularly restrained on this one.

    ReplyDelete