I just got to page 19 of Stephen Fry’s engaging book (“The Ode Less Travelled” published in 2007 – how come I only found it now?).
I mean, truly engaging, for, at this point, it asked me to spend 10 minutes jotting down 20 lines of iambic pentameters to get accustomed to poetic writing.
A fun exercise, where I found myself trying to summarise how it felt reading the book so far, i.e.: GREAT, but with one objection. Here it goes:
En route to Boston on a Delta flight
The book I am reading asks to write some verse
To step inside that wondrous universe
Which beauty draws from hiding in plain sight
The splendour of a structured set of words
Encased to reach the shores of worlds beyond
Set free yet through the constraints of a bond
A mighty weapon scarier than Sith-Lords
This gravity-defying projectile
Is off and soon has vanished out of sight
Invisible to some, to some a light
It lifts the soul from everything that’s vile
But as I travel through your splendid Ode
I ought to say, regarding writing mode
That notes are not confined to feathered quills
A keyboard is just fine and if you spill
The wine out of the cup (in metaphor)
It’s easy to correct, it’s not a chore
Yes! Glorious words can flourish on the screen
In ways akin to ink on pergamene.
Rule three I beg thus, Master Stephen Fry
To strike, for digi-words indeed can fly.
(Rule three, in the preface of the book, says you should always carry a notepad and pen – for hand-writing poetry).
Poetry truly is medicine for the soul. I discovered it only in recent years (primarily in the context of an intimate whatsapp circle of old-school friends – hence why I feel strongly that your iPhone can be your notepad) and I absolutely love what it does to you.
Stephen Fry has gifted the public with a fantastic tool for opening the door to what’s best inside us: a thoroughly recommended “read-write” for those who, like me, missed out since it was first published.