Sometimes I think I can remember my mother singing me to sleep in my infancy. But that’s probably in my imagination, since I did see her singing, most likely the same songs, to my younger siblings when they were babies. Songs, yes, but it took me several more years to realize those songs were poems. By that time, I was already into poems, nonsense verse, crafted by Sukumar Ray, the father of the Bengali filmmaker, Satyajit Ray.
It may seem startling, to some, that poetry pours into our ears from the first lullabies sung to us. To me it’s a mystery why the seeds of poetry grow into emotional shade trees in some and wither away in others. But the National Poetry Month is not an occasion to debate these questions. Rather, it is a time to celebrate poetry.
Bayeux Arts leapt into poetry in the idyllic Orkney Islands when the late Scottish poet, George Mackay Brown, ‘dared’ me to start a publishing house using a volume of his original poems. When I laid out my reservations, confessing that I had not purchased a single volume of poems during five years of my Ph.D. on 17th century English poetry, he relented and agreed to have his London publisher, John Murray, throw in the North American rights to his forthcoming novel, “Beside the Ocean of Time,” short-listed for the 1994 Booker Prize.
“The Sea and the Tower” is the first collection of George Mackay Brown’s ‘Homeric’ verses Bayeux published, followed by “The Wreck of the Archangel.” We celebrate this author because here was a poet who breathed life into our publishing efforts. Other poets have done the same. Lord Byron’s poems reaped a rich harvest for the Scottish publisher, John Murray. More recently, T.S. Eliot revived a floundering Faber and Faber when royalties from “Cats” starting pouring in from Andrew Lloyd Webber. Eliot is not finished with miracles, even if the miracle is performed by Random House. I am referring to Random House/Faber & Faber producing the remarkable “The Waste Land” app for the iPad which has sold in the thousands. Bayeux is busy refining the art of apps.