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Poetry By Heart Blog

Learning ‘Those Winter Sundays’ by Robert Hayden – by heart

13th May 2022

Wendy MacKenzie-Ingle is a 60 year old English Teaching Assistant at Dartford Grammar School for Girls and a big fan of Poetry by Heart. She enjoyed organising bigger and bigger competitions in-school to select Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 winners every year until COVID struck.
Wendy has always avoided the Staff competition but this year accepted the challenge and set to learning a short poem. She says that ‘the experience has taught me a great deal about what the students have been doing all these years! I feel proud of getting the poem I learnt by heart and have found it extraordinary to spend much longer than usual with one poem. I am determined now to try a longer poem as I can see that, even as we get older, the brain finds its own way to hold onto poetry.’

This poem is inspired by ‘Those Winter Sundays’ by Robert Hayden.



what did I know
of the effort involved
of the physical pain
of not remembering?

what did I know
of what youngsters do
of their plastic brains
of my declining cells?

what did I know
of of and to and and
of those small words
of how they trip up?

what did I know
of the ways to learn a line
of how to tame the words
of how to get inside the poem?

what did I know
of rhythm of beats
of walking in time to the words
of learning a way to learn?

what did I know
of the magical power of Sundays
of blueblack cold and cracked hands
of the poem getting hold of me?
what did I know
of the joy the satisfaction
of the sense of growing
of my heart swelling?

what did I know
after years of encouraging others to do this wonderful, life-changing thing?
what did I know?


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