Here at Foster Grant, we sell a vast array of reading glasses and we’re huge proponents of reading. We think reading can make a significant difference to people’s lives and we think that wearing reading glasses if you need them can help you read more comfortably. Apart from providing us with information and entertaining us, reading can improve our mood. Poetry can be especially evocative, so we’ve taken a lot of time and consideration in putting together this list of poems which we think will help to put you in a better mood.
Wild Geese – 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.’
Wild Geese is a very special poem about how stopping to appreciate nature, and our place in nature, can be enough to make us feel happy and satisfied with life. Mary Oliver is an American poet whose background in Ohio, then New England, informed most of her poetry. Over the years, Oliver loved taking walks out in the countryside, and her poems have benefited hugely from this. Wild Geese is in the second person, which means that it addresses the reader personally. This makes the message feel particularly intimate and compelling. Read Wild Geese if you’re having a tough day to help you appreciate the bigger picture; it’s guaranteed to put you in a better mood. Here’s a link to Oliver reading Wild Geese.
Jabberwocky – by Lewis Carroll
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrab’
Jabberwocky is perhaps Lewis Carroll’s most famous nonsense poem, and you can read it here. It’s about the slaying of a monstrous creature called the Jabberwocky. The poem was included in Carroll’s novel Through the Looking-glass, and What Alice Found There. There are few things as enjoyable as reading a nonsense poem out loud. Carroll made up many of his own words; they are fun to say and there is a vague sense of their meaning, even if we don’t know exactly what they mean. Some of Carroll’s made-up words have become well known that they are now used in everyday English, such as ‘chortle’ and ‘galumphing’.
Warning – by Jenny Joseph
Warning is a wonderful poem by Jenny Joseph. The poem is a woman’s fantasy about what it will be like to be old. The poem considers how eccentric old people are allowed to be, how free they are to say and do and eat whatever they like. Whereas so many poems discuss the trials and tribulations of growing old, Warning is a joyful, hopeful celebration of old age, full of whimsy, humour, and everything else we need from a poem that is going to put us in a good mood!
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat – by Edward Lear
‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.’
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat is an absolute joy to read. It is perhaps Edward Lear’s most famous nonsense poem. Like Carroll’s Jobberwocky, Lear’s poem doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it sounds great! The best thing about The Owl and the Pussy-Cat is its singsong rhythm; although there is no musical notation, it feels like a song, and the reader finds themselves wanting to sing it or read it out however they wish. It’s almost impossible to read this poem and not feel uplifted.
Happiness (Reconsidered) – by Judith Viorst
‘And our bringing-up-baby days are far behind us,
But our senior-citizen days have not begun,
It’s not what I called happiness
When I was twenty-one,
But it’s turning out to be
What happiness is.’
Happiness (Reconsidered) looks at the nature of happiness in the poet’s life, how it has changed so much from what she thought it had been when she was a young woman. Judith Viorst is an American writer and journalist who turned her hand to poetry when she was middle-aged. A lot of her poetry looks at growing old and Happiness (Reconsidered) shows how her idea of being happy changed as she grew older. This poem could be a saccharine-sweet declaration of what happiness is, but that wouldn’t be as effective as the tentative, complex description the poet arrives at. Happiness — how to attain it — has changed, and it is different for everyone.
Leisure – W. H. Davies
‘What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.’
Leisure is perhaps Welsh poet W. H. Davies most famous poem. It is about how many of us do not make enough time to stop and appreciate the beauty around us. The poem initially seems to criticise our busy lifestyles, but it quickly zooms into many of life’s many beautiful moments, showing the reader how important and special it can be to stop for a moment and appreciate your life. The message from this poem is valuable and the reader is left feeling as though she can take time to ‘stand and stare’.
On the Ning Nang Nong – by Spike Milligan
‘On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!’
This is perhaps the most fun poem in the English language to read out loud! Spike Milligan was a British-Irish writer, poet, musician, actor, and comedian with a penchant for whimsy and the absurd. On the Ning Nang Nong is another nonsense poem with a brilliant sense of rhythm and it takes joy in silly words and alliteration. What’s especially fun about On the Ning Nang Nong is that some of the lines are tongue twisters that will make you burst out laughing when you say them wrong. It’s almost impossible to read this poem and not be in a better mood!