A picture is worth a thousand words, but a poem is worth a thousand pictures…
John Carder Bush
One of the main driving forces of Tony Buzan’s life is poetry: the reading of it; the memorisation of it; and the writing of it. Its power to condense thought into the most powerful metaphorical nuggets has inspired and challenged.
To date Tony has written over 4,000 poems, in subject categories which include:
- Nature/Animal Poems
- Change Poems
- Concorde Poems
- Love Poems
- Humorous Poems
- Dream-based Poems
- Philosophical Poems
- Poems based on the human senses
- Universal /Astronomical /Cosmological Poems
- Suite Poems – suites of poems based on mind-catching subjects
To launch this major branch of Tony’s life, the first poem of the week will feature the history behind Tony Buzan’s poetry writing, and 1 poem from the Nature/Animal section. We have asked Tony to give a brief introductory background for each poem.
The History Behind Tony Buzan’s Poetry Writing
As a young boy
As a young boy I was enthralled by, almost hypnotised by, the astonishing and varied beauty of Nature: the immaculate designs and coruscating beauty of insects; the infinite variety and magical forms of the animals; the grace, power, soaring and elegance of the eagles and hawks; the majesty and mystery of the cats; the boundless energy, abundance and fantastic colours and formulations of the plant kingdom; the magnificence of mountains; the ethereal beauty of misty mornings; and the might and awesome beauty of the Cosmos.
As a consequence, the houses of my best-friend-in-nature Barry Camburn and me were mini nature sanctuaries, brimming with selections from Paradise including: cats, dogs, budgerigars, canaries, rabbits, guinea-pigs, mice, fish, tadpoles, newts, snakes, beetles, and caterpillars-into-butterflies, to name but a few. As a result we were avid supporters and proud wearers of the badges of the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) and other nature protection and conservation societies. We were always deeply saddened by examples of, and stories about, cruelty to animals.
Both Barry and I were so in awe of all this beauty and creation, and so intrigued by its processes and evolutions, that we could not understand why it was that anyone would wish to pin into stillness on a board in a case, such a wondrous living thing as a butterfly, or how anyone could in any way wish to harm the Natural World.
It was my passion for Nature and my pets that led to both my first book and my first contacts with the media.
My first book
My first book at the age of 8 was a little tome on my pets; my first contact with the media came as a result of winning second prize, at the age of seven, in my town of Whistable’s pet competition. I made myself none too popular by innocently proclaiming from the pages of the Whistable Gazette that the world would be a far better place if all the humans were removed, leaving the animals and plants to live in relative peace!
My goals in life, from the age of seven through 20 were, successively, to be: an entomologist; a zoologist; a zoo keeper; a vet; and an ethologist (animal psychologist).
My relationship with Poetry
This great love manifested itself by consuming my thoughts and actions. It did not manifest itself in poetry, because my relationship with that Universe was an unhappy one.
My understanding of poetry was that it was a confusing, relatively meaningless, dull and boring subject that required me to sit still and listen to some monotonic and self-righteous teacher droning on while reading this ‘high art form’. I was then required to waste my time beating my brains out to memorise that which had no meaning or relevance to my young life.
As I grew older the relationship worsened.
By the time I had reached the giddy heights of teenage-hood, and was beginning to feel decidedly masculine, I had relegated poetry to a subject exclusively for the weak and feeble in both body and mind!
The event that changed both my attitude to poetry and my life was imminent.
The scene: my English Literature class, when I had just reached the age of 14.
Our teacher at the time was a little, lank-haired, plain, and untrained lady whose voice you could hardly hear even when the classroom (which it never was) was not erupting with delinquent behaviour.
On this particular morning she had lost total control, and the class and she were in two different worlds. We moving about, laughing and shouting, and oblivious to her except when to mock or cat-call.
She gave us ample opportunity for this by stating that today she was going to read us her favourite poem. This was not an auspicious start to a lesson! We all groaned loudly and in unison.
The situation was made worse when, clutching her poetry book to her grubby white blouse, she announced that the poem was about a bird. Our groans became ostentatiously louder.
Things got even worse when she proclaimed that the author was called Alfred!! We lolled melodramatically, mimicking histrionic despair and boredom.
And then something strange and eerie happened. She seemed to transform, like some strange alien, as if another Spirit had entered her being. Her posture changed, her voice became more powerful. She was wrapped in her own secure world of love and dreams for and about the poem she was about to read. She intoned hypnotically:
Alfred Lord Tennyson
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
The thunderbolt had indeed struck.
I sat, pole-axed, stunned by the condensed power and the immaculate precision with which Tennyson had so perfectly described a being that for many years had been a beacon for me, and whose qualities exemplified so much of that with which I had identified.
In that one moment my paradigms of poetry and life shifted totally and forever.
I realised that poetry could express in unique, powerful and sublime ways the awesomely beautiful world of nature; that poetry could, on one level, expand and magnify that world by giving it other dimensions.
In a very real sense, poetry could be seen as nature growing yet more wonderful and more magical by producing more life forms: poems. As teenagers do, I had found a new hero! And, as a good teenager should, I wanted to be like, to copy, Alfred Lord Tennyson…
Coincidentally, the following weekend, I was walking along a pier when I saw a fisherman catch a particularly beautiful fish and proceed to pound its flapping form with the lead weight from his fishing line.
My first-ever poem appeared at warp-speed, almost instantaneously in my head:
It stares through me with glazing eyes,
The blood, congealing on them, dries,
As gasping one last breath, it dies.
The fish that once looked so divine
Lies smashed and dead, with broken spine,
I leave. The angler sorts his line.
Once I had read The Eagle and written The Catch, my mind was transformed. Rather than seeing things in the normal way, or not seeing them at all, my eyes were more opened to the beauty of everything, and to the possibilities of infinite metaphorical poetic connections.