An Invitation To Join In

In sharing this Poetry page with friends and well-wishers my hope is to stimulate a dialogue about poetry. I invite you to submit, via the Contact page, a favourite poem which you have read so that we can share it here. 

Warmest thanks go out to Sue Wilsea for the following comprehensive and encouraging report on a recent event during Hull's City of Culture year:-

Phil, Maurice and Me

I've always been slightly intimidated by Hull University's Brynmor Jones library. When I first came in the early 70s, it was the largest University library in Europe and even now it dominates an ever expanding campus.  So when, one afternoon earlier this year, I arrived there to give a talk on Maurice's poetry to the University's reading group I did wonder if the title of my talk, Phil, Maurice and Me should have had a little more gravitas! This was compounded when the first talk of the afternoon, an excellent presentation on Philip Larkin, had intellectual weight and slides, as well as a lovely youthful presenter.

However, reminding myself that this wasn't about me and my insecurities but about Maurice, I launched into my talk which dealt with Maurice's life, his local connections and, most importantly, triggered a discussion on the selection of poems that the audience, numbering about 40, had been sent prior to the day. Hopefully I conveyed my passion and enthusiasm for his poetry which I think manages to blend so beautifully and skilfully the ordinary with the profound; which is accessible yet never trite; which doesn't shy away from political and social comment; which contains wit, humour and self-deprecation. After my talk, there were questions and some useful clarifications made by Maurice's family members who were present. I think it's fair to say that most people had not read Maurice's work before and that most were now keen to read more. There was applause. Quite a lot.

Later I realised that in one sense this was about me because how could it be otherwise?  What you read shapes who you are and how you respond to literature, but particularly poetry, says something about you at a given time. When I did English at Hull, all those years ago, most of my studying took place on the fifth floor of the BJL. I read what I was told to and responded in a number of prescribed ways. As a teacher, I then perpetuated that process and, often, as with Larkin, my responses came from the head rather than the heart. But now, as a mature ( ie old ) person, I am liberated and not just by virtue of my bus pass! Something in Maurice's poetry touches me at this phase in my life and I am privileged to have had the opportunities to try and communicate some of that feeling to others, whether through performing The Remarkable Mr Rutherford with Felix Hodcroft or by participating in events such as this one.

That afternoon I walked away from under the shadow of the BJL, literally and otherwise.
Sue Wilsea, September 2017.

Posted on Wednesday 6th September 2017.

You’ve probably heard of our small country: we are well known for our sheep which outnumber our population 22 - 1, and our amazing sights. The poems seem to write themselves over here when looking out over the landscapes, but there are some who went above and beyond the call of nature and took poetry to a very high level. I was wondering if you’d ever heard of James K. Baxter before and if you were familiar with his work. I think you’d like it. James.
— James Daly

James Daly sent in the above from New Zealand. I'm hoping that James will send one of his favourite poems to share with us, but I also plan to include a Baxter poem in my autumn postings.  Meanwhile I thank James Daly for having told us from where in the world his response comes; I live - here in my home at Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, UK - for the day when all who share this website will wave the flag of their homeland, or the country they make their home, from which they write.  Please, dear reader, make that day today.  Readers might also like to know that my granddaughter Katy, who has the know-how to set up and manage this website, does the twice-weekly postings from whichever of the world's fashion capitals her business, STORY mfg., takes her to.  Maurice.

Comment posted on Wednesday 9th August 2017.

So glad I found this site. I love your work! Please don’t stop writing, you have a gift!
— Pearl Maese

Cheering to hear from Pearl Maese. Thank you, Pearl, for taking the time to get in touch. In return I should tell you that sometimes, posting a poem on the website, it feels like I'm simply baying at an unseen moon; but your kind message reassures me, as others have done, that I've found a gap in the clouds and even the moon is possible, so I return to howl into another unknown.  You are my proof.  Do please keep connected.  Maurice.

Comment posted on Wednesday 2nd August 2017.

I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your website, I’ve really enjoyed reading your commentaries...I do hope you keep on updating the site, I’ll definitely visit again!
— Grace Frankish

Grace Frankish, requesting Sylvia Plath's 'Poppies in July'.

Thank you, Grace, it's always encouraging to be told that a poem has hit the spot!

Comment posted on Sunday 23rd July 2017.

I do not have any poetry to contribute but I really appreciate your efforts towards learning poetry and maintaining this website. I admire your passion for poetry at such a mature age. Respectfully, Ketan.
— Ketan Maheshwari

- Isn't this a most rewarding, humbling endorsement to receive!  Thank you very much indeed, Ketan.

Comment posted on Wednesday 12th July 2017

I just wanted to thank you for posting that Milton poem, and to thank you for keeping poetry in my life; your website has been an inspiration. (So much of which I would have never discovered on my own.) I shall keep a close watch on your website for more prose and amazing poetry. I may submit more in the near future, so much great poetry to choose from...Octavio Paz, Rimbaud, Blake...
— A generous response from Brian Jones

Any/all of these, dear reader, plus your own favourite, would indeed be eagerly welcomed aboard.

Comment posted on Wednesday 28th June 2017.

What a wonderful website! I love the collections of poems and the eloquent thoughts that accompany them. The only defect: the absence of John Donne. I recommend his Holy Sonnet 14
— Marta Ador

Marta's choice will be posted soon.

Comment posted on Wednesday 7th June 2017.

Big fan, awesome array of poems and writings all in one website. Keep it up!
— Jesse Leon

Comment posted on Saturday 13th May 2017.

Your poem, Epithalamium, just made me weep in public. That just isn’t something that happens to me. I was moved to the very core of my being. Thank you for sharing yourself with the world. Thank you for your poetry.
— Violet Weil

Comment posted on Saturday 29th April 2017.

Hi Maurice! I think what you’re doing here is utterly fantastic. One of the most influential people in my life was a university professor who, like you, never understood poetry until much later in life; however, once the bug hit him, it devolved into an absolute love affair that was just so beautiful to watch unfold.

Maurice, I have read so many Very Important poets, ones that have truly profound things to say about life and love and all manner of other subjects. And I think the things they have to say are absolutely beautiful, I really do. But today, I want to share the poem that brings me happiness every time it comes to mind. The one that is so brain-dead simple, but somehow in the act of shedding all the pretension of the art form becomes a new creation, something else entirely. I learned this poem by heart 20 years ago, yet it still brings me absolute joy to this day with every subsequent recollection. The poem is called “The Cow”, by American poet Ogden Nash.
— Lane Stroud

You too can read 'The Cow' over at the Poetry page.

Comment posted Wednesday 26th April 2017.

I did enjoy the Portuguese poem and what you said about the euphony of the original is so true. We have been promoting your fascinating website with our members.
— Geraldine Norman

Pillow-Talk - This poem was read at an event in Grassington recently and it captivated the audience. For a room of people who had reached ‘a certain age’ the poem resonated wonderfully!
— Geraldine Norman

Geraldine is Secretary of the Upper Wharfedale Arts and Literature Society.  The reader was Barrie Rutter.

Your poem ‘Through Mother’s Eyes’ reminds me that poetry can be a tool to love others you don’t typically see eye to eye with. Letting them love you the way they do is half of life’s battle. Thank you!
— Alex C.

Comments posted Wednesday 29th March 2017.

Maurice! Wonderful page. Such a wealth of poetic richness. I particularly enjoyed your poem about Ulysses Smith.
One of my favorite poems to share is by [U.S.] poet laureate Billy Collins.
— Leah Tucker

Leah's chosen poem is gratefully accepted and stands in line for posting asap.

Hello! I wanted to send a note to you saying how much I am enjoying your website. I’ve had a love for poetry since my early teen years that I have not fostered for some time. I especially enjoyed ‘C.L.M’ by John Masefield.
I am sure you have read him, but my favorite poet/poem is ‘The Waking’ by Theodore Roethke. I thought I’d share it with you as you have offered so many wonderful poems with such enjoyable commentary.
I have bookmarked your page for further reading. Thank you for creating your page and I wish you a wonderful day! Kindest regards, Dani.
— Danielle Weisel

('The Waking', requested also by John Davis, is due for posting shortly.)

A submission from Lauren Perry :-

Lauren's eye-catching subject is 'I have been eating poetry', which, she tells us, is also the title of a favourite poem, but goes on to say:  

First, I read through some of your poems on this site Mr. Rutherford, and I really loved the line “chuckling in his sleep again”, it really stuck with me. A great line. [from ‘Ulysses Smith’] You are a fine poet, and an inspiration.
You ask for a favorite poem and what it means to me. My favorite poet right now is Wislawa Szymborska. My two favorite poems of hers are ‘Life While You Wait’ and ‘A Few Words On The Soul’. I love them both, but I will share the latter with you, because this experience of sharing poetry with another person, and talking about the things we care about, is one of those experiences that the soul participates in. This poem, and her other works, speak to me in ways that are difficult to explain. They are like feelings I had no words for. I don’t even really believe in a soul. And yet something in me is moved by these words, and responds to them. I hope you enjoy it.
— Lauren Perry

Lauren's excellent response on the importance of poetry speaks perfectly for me too; her chosen Szymborska poem will follow soon.

I enjoy your work immensely! Thank you! Here’s a poem that has always inspired me.
— Kalyb Prince

Kalyb's comment left the talking to T.S. Eliot and the second part of the first of his Four Quartets, 'Burnt Norton', which is also now standing in line for posting.

Hi Maurice, You have a lovely website. I hope you like the haiku above. Cheers, Monica
— Monica Nguyen

The haiku, normally a three-liner of five/seven/five syllables, is of course so brief that I can't resist sneaking it in here ahead of the posting queue; this is the English version Monica sent:-

  'Napped half the day;
    no one
    punished me!'   


Kobayashi Issa  (translated by Robert Hass)


For all of these, my thanks, Maurice.

Comments posted Wednesday 22nd March 2017.

The tranquility of Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, UK, was shattered last weekend when this website's link was leaked on Reddit, bringing to my room kind responses faster than the welcoming committee (of one) could handle.  Thank you, thank you kind leaker!  And thank you, dear readers, for caring.  I have now sent acknowledgements to all, but unfortunately two were each returned 'undeliverable' although I tried twice to send emails to Aditya A, and John Davis.  Those who kindly sent favourite poems to share should now know of their safe receipt; they are:  Alexander Erbil, Danielle Weisel, Iván Espinosa, Kalyb Prince, Lauren Perry and Noah Zino - my thanks to them all.  Beyond these, here are the latest comments:-

On the back of a post that your granddaughter’s boyfriend made on Reddit, I have discovered your lovely website. After only a short little while spent reading and browsing, I have already found myself smiling an awful lot and enjoying this charming miscellany of poetry. I am particularly fond of your readings. If I may be so bold, would you mind me asking which one of your poems is your favourite?
Thank you for creating this delightful virtual space. All the best, Hulie.
— Juliet Strike

Hi Mr. Rutherford,
I was recently directed to your website to read-or, more appropriately, to hear-your poetry. I am actually a Junior in high-school down in Louisiana, and I’ve only just stumbled upon what appears the infinite reservoir of poetry. That said, I am effectively illiterate when it comes to interpreting actual poems, and my age seems to imbue most of my work with unintended pretension-so there’s quite a ways to go for me. All this considered, I wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the four or so poems you read on your website. They feel so…modestly and admirably wistful, kind of like…a raindrop lost in its own fall, trusting the wind. They’re soft memories, and I love that. Philosophically, they bring to mind Camus or Hemingway with their reserved introspection. I particularly enjoyed Cuckoo and Daffodils. The lulling detachment of Cuckoo is exactly what I tried to write about in this poem called “The Bungalow Grove,” which essentially revolves around a safe place bereft of ‘meaning’ and abounding in natural simplicity. I love Cuckoo’s soothing imagery, and I think your voice helps greatly in conveying that aura. As for Daffodils, I loved your insistence upon living for the day, and living for oneself, and being that self. Of course, as mentioned above, I’m not sure at all that this is what you intended, but it resonates profoundly with my life right now. As a highschooler, I tend to doubt myself in practically everything-even in the few things others would consider me talented at doing-and I struggle often to be like those daffodils confident in their purpose and their defiant willingness to define that purpose for themselves. I’d like to thank you sincerely for sharing your poems online; I’ll surely be listening to them again. And, I only recently saw that you’ve posted interpretations of other poems, so I’ll be sure to view those as well. Thank you so, so much for writing: It’s poets like you-natural observers wanting to leave a word or two to the future-who make poetry so magical for me :)
— Story Frantzen

Dear Maurice, I really enjoy your commentary, and the selection of poetry you have posted. It gets me out of reading the same old poetry. I think (as a musician) we select our favorite chords and play those again and again, I wonder is it the same for poetry? Like some secret garden we tend. Anyhow, thanks again for the inspiration, I really need to get back to writing.,,,
— Brian Jones, Eureka CA.

As a fellow poet and lover of poetry... I just want to thank you immensely for the work you have put in on this site! It looks great and I shall be bookmarking it to read and re-read, as your analysis and your words are both wonderful. Thank you. Yours sincerely and with best regards, Nicole.
— Nicole Baker

Your website! I’m a big fan of this website Maurice! And the fact that even in old age (you don’t look a day over 50!) you’ve maintained a love for poetry is amazing. Through your website I was introduced to “Let me put it this way” by Simon Armitage, and I’m a big fan of it. Thanks for sharing this website with us!
— Jacob Flynn

Comments posted Saturday 18th March 2017.

- On Malcolm Lowry:

And Wikipedia stresses above the artistic works of Beneath the Volcano seasoning salts and a chain of steak houses. It’s a shame. Thank you for reminding me to discount the refuse offsprings of the cotton brokers.
— Otto Mata

John Alderton adds to Wikipedia this link for further reading:


On the Poetry page:

I’ve just come across this webpage.  English is not my first language, even so I love poetry and have always been in search of a webpage like this.  It seems great.  I will try to read one poem a day and try to make it my fortune poem for the day.  Thanks.
— Merve Aydin

I just wanted to share how much I enjoy your site.  Your commentaries are written with such a distinct voice.  They are knowledgable and hold weight, but also friendly and off-the-cuff.  And you have introduced me to new things.  Thanks very much for your work.
— Oliver Campion

- Briefly, but equally welcome:

Great poetry here!  Best wishes to you!
— Bridget Hurd


There are more responses to follow shortly. Warm thanks and best wishes to you all, Maurice.

Comments posted Wednesday 15th March 2017.

I have just listened to the readings and I loved them! ‘Lessons in Age’ brought back happy memories of performing ‘The Remarkable Mr Rutherford [in The Hull to Scarborough Line production]. Probably my favourite of all your poems we read [in that play] was ‘Postscript to my Father’ which never failed to catch the audience with its beautiful closing lines.

- Sue Wilsea, on the Alderton/Collins readings, and on an afternoon together in Scarborough.

"I bought your books through amazon and must say how much I am enjoying reading copy of 'Slipping The Tugs' has in it the letter you sent in 1982 to Mrs. Whitely, headmistress of Paisley Street School, asking to look over your old Hull school!...Have enjoyed listening to the first two recordings of John Alderton and Pauline Collins.  I read two of your poems to the local Poetry Group where they were well received."

-  Peter Watson, after finding this website.

"  'Maurice and the Expanding Website'.  Apologies, [this] sounds like the title of one of those books I used to read to the children...I have kept a weather-eye on your site and see it growing steadily... and I shall pass the word along among my mates.  It's good to watch this thing grow!"

-  Alan D'Arcy, a regular reader.

" it, Pauline and John together and the poem comes to life - brilliant!  Love these readings, your poems enjoy being read!"

- Terri Allen on 'Lessons in Age'.

Comments received for the poetry readings by Pauline Collins and John Alderton. Listen to them on the Readings page.


"I have listened to them both, and will do again; they are brilliant!" 

- Terri Allen


" will be pleased to know I have linked you onto our Kaspar Kent Atelier Archives Recordings info page -

- Roger Allen

"...enjoyed listening, rather than reading...I could sit back with eyes closed and imagine it all...Fabulous!"

- Kathy Sumnall, Canada


"What a delight - Katy so clear and unruffled, both Pauline and John bring your poems vividly alive...they were both a joy to listen to."

- Shelagh Devereux


Comments posted Wednesday 30th November.

"The repetitive, 'circling' nature of the villanelle makes it ideal for poets to worry at something which vexes and nags away at them - who genuinely want to explore rather than just vent! The repeated lines can become metaphors for things much broader, deeper. One of the qualities of this poem is that the worrying away, the repetitions do NOT discover a 'pat' answer. After nineteen lines, the reader finds s/he has been led around the maze and then thrown (gently) back out of it, to answer for her/himself the question: if not food, culture, warmth, comfort, what is it that truly feeds children? We know the answer really, the poet quietly, cunningly implies..... or do we?
Thank you Carol and Maurice for sharing with us a villanelle that's far more than an exercise in poetic ingenuity."


- Felix Hodcroft on Carol Rumens' A Case of Deprivation (Star Whisper, Secker, 1983, London)

Comment posted 15th September 2016

A welcome email message was received from Terri Allen after she had read Carol Rumens' poem A Case of Deprivation, saying,

"I had to investigate the villanelle to understand the pattern that I was reading and the history of the form.  I love the rhythm of the poem and to me it seems to be a progression of a life/relationship.  And it is moving and poignant for that reason".

This in itself is a wonderful appraisal from one who doesn't consider herself "qualified" to offer comment; but there's more: the following day a second message arrived,

"It dawned on me this evening, as I was driving along, that the villanelle talks about a shelf of books, a little meat; feed their minds and feed their bellies; but what about feed their hearts and souls?  Children need to 'eat' love too".  

The emotions stirred by a poem read a couple of days earlier were still active and colouring the reader's life.  Could there be any better proof that the poem had 'worked' - and was still doing so!

It would be good to receive the thoughts of others who might be emboldened by Terri's welcomed initiative to write in.


Comment posted 8th September 2016