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Unit 44 – A Short Poem About Leaving

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 1 minute 30 seconds

Below is a short poem by Irish poet, John Montague


No Music

I’ll tell you a sore truth, little understood
It’s harder to leave, than to be left:
To stay, to leave, both sting wrong.

You will always have me to blame,
Can dream we might have sailed on;
From absence’s rib, a warm fiction.

To tear up old love by the roots,
To trample on past affections:
There is no music for so harsh a song.


Unit 27 – The Fascination of What’s Difficult

Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Time: 3 minutes


The Fascination of What’s Difficult
by W. B. Yeats


The fascination of what’s difficult
Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent
Spontaneous joy and natural content
Out of my heart. There’s something ails our colt
That must, as if it had not holy blood
Nor on Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud,
Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt
As though it dragged road metal. My curse on plays
That have to be set up in fifty ways,
On the day’s war with every knave and dolt*,
Theatre business, management of men.
I swear before the dawn comes round again
I’ll find the stable and pull out the bolt

*dolt: a stupid person


Unit 18 – Tricky Questions on Classic Poetry

Difficulty: Hard
Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds


Below is an extract from Like Dolmens Round My Childhood…, a poem by John Montague


Like dolmens round my childhood, the old people.

Jamie MacCrystal sang to himself,
A broken song without tune, without words;
He tipped me a penny every pension day,
Fed kindly crusts to winter birds.
When he died, his cottage was robbed,
Mattress and money-box torn and searched.
Only the corpse they didn’t disturb.


Unit 1.14 – A Poem About Death

I’m after losing the name of the poet, but if anyone knows maybe give us a shout? It’s an Irish poet from the north of Ireland.

Difficulty: Medium

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds


A Father’s Death 

It was no vast dynastic fate

when gasp by gasp my father died,

no mourners at the palace gate,

or tall bells tolling slow and wide.


We sat beside the bed; the screen

shut out the hushed, the tiptoe ward,

and now and then we both would lean

to catch what seemed a whispered word.


My mother watched her days drag by,

two score and five the married years,

yet never weakened to a cry

who was so ready with her tears.


Then, when dawn washed the polished floor

and steps and voices woke and stirred

with wheels along the corridor,

my father went without a word.


Unit 1.4 – Irish Poetry

Difficulty: Hard

Time: 4 minutes 30 seconds


A Priceless Simplicity by Pat Ingoldsby


You sat in beside me on the bus

because you wanted to.

You talked to me with

a lovely loud open voice

which doesn’t know the meaning

of shyness or inhibition

or fear of saying the wrong thing

and many people in this world

would call you simple.


You have got free travel

because your special allowance

isn’t really very special

and nobody would ever dream

of giving you a job

unless they needed a man to

clean out a public convenience.


Everybody upstairs on the bus

heard every lovely disabled

word that you spoke

but nobody turned around to see the lovely man who was speaking them.