Poetry and (Making) Memories

Welcome to the second of the 2022 series of workshops with Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, aimed at members of the Living Well community.

Today’s session explores poetry on the subject of memory. What is it that we want to convey to those we have left behind? How can a choice of a poem or reading help to mark a life well lived, provide comfort or consolation, or give directions and support to our loved ones?

This morning we will:

  • Hear some poetry and lyrics on the theme of memory
  • Discuss the power of memory and what triggers us to remember our past
  • Talk reflectively together, share our perspectives and favourites, and how these poems can give us a new perspective on our own memories

The Poems

1. ‘The Piano’, D. H. Lawrence

Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

2. An extract from ‘Smoke’, Jacob Polley

3. Perfect Day, Lou Reed

Just a perfect day
Drink sangria in the park
And then later, when it gets dark
We go home

Just a perfect day
Feed animals in the zoo
Then later a movie, too
And then home

Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

Just a perfect day
Problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
It’s such fun

Just a perfect day
You made me forget myself
I thought I was someone else
Someone good

Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow

4. ‘In The Museum of Lost Objects’, by Rebecca Lindenberg

Further reading: some recommendations on the theme of memory, moments and nostalgia

Gerard Manley Hopkins, Spring and Fall
Diane Thiel, Love Letters

You may like to have a look at Words for our selection of poetry and prose on the theme of death and dying.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and learn from your insights and experiences. Feel free to speak to the nursing team or get in touch with us directly cambridgegooddeath@gmail.com.

Posted: 22nd February 2022