Being human

Poetry has a way of getting to the core of being human. Joe Bennett’s column in today’s newspaper is centred on the poem Naming of Parts by Henry Reed, first published in 1942, which makes a sad, ironic comment on human behaviour by contrasting the beauty of spring with the hard metal of weaponry.

And so I think of the pleasure of wandering in my garden in the morning as I go to collect the paper from the gate. It is like swimming in new growth which is now waist- and shoulder-high in places, while the golden kowhai reaches overhead.

Then, I sit down to read the paper and re-discover all the complications of human life. Housing shortage, global pandemic, racism, war, disputes, cruelty, and the current new series of articles entitled “This is how it ends” (alluding to Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men) about the sixth mass extinction and climate change.

On the lawn outside my window the hens peck. Sparrows, blackbirds and starlings come down to see what’s on offer. The foxglove flowers are beginning to open. Their lives are as simple and as complicated as the circle of life.

And we humans are superior beings because we have a brain. Find the evidence in poetry.

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