This Poem Is Dangerous


Our poem for the week is by a Scottish poet who didn’t start publishing till the 1960’s though she was born in 1919.

Poetry Editor GIll Ward says ‘I think this is a gorgeous poem!’

This Poem is Dangerous, by Elma Mitchell

This poem is dangerous: it should not be left
Within the reach of children, or even of adults
Who might swallow it whole, with possibly
Undesirable side-effects. If you come across
An unattended, unidentified poem
In a public place, do not attempt to tackle it
Yourself. Send it (preferably, in a sealed container)
To the nearest centre of learning, where it will be rendered
Harmless, by experts. Even the simplest poem
May destroy your immunity to human emotions.
All poems must carry a Government warning. Words
Can seriously affect your heart.

(Lanarkshire-born Elma Mitchell went south with a scholarship to Oxford, and remained in England, working as a librarian for the BBC, and latterly as a freelance writer and translator. Her compassionate insights into people’s lives were collected in four books of poetry)

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