The Ode Less Travelled

the_ode_less_travelled We cover poetry in A215 and although that’s not until the New Year, The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry has been recommended by various people on the OU A215 forum.

While I was in Cornwall last weekend visiting Emily and Michael, I spied a copy of The Ode Less Travelled on their bookshelves.  “Ooh, I said, do you write poetry?”  I asked Emily.  “No, Michael’s sister gave it to me for Christmas,” she replied.  I said I’d been recommended it and promptly took it off the shelf and gave it a quick flick through.

I didn’t understand a word of it.  Ok, maybe the odd word like “a” and “and” but apart from that, complete gobbledegook.  I very ladylikely said “Bollocks to that then” and put it back on the shelf as promptly as I’d taken it off.

After returning to Kent, I went on the forum and said I’d had a quick flick through it but didn’t understand a word of it.  Someone sensibly pointed out that if I read it from the beginning it would make more sense.  Wise words, I thought, but didn’t want to splash out on it via amazon so logged on to my good old fashioned bricks, mortar and dust library’s website and reserved a copy, which I picked up yesterday.

This time, I started reading it from the beginning.  I hadn’t got very far (in fact only the third page in the Foreword) when Mr Fry says “While it is perfectly possible that you did not learn music at school, or drawing and painting, it is almost certain that you did learn poetry.

Now, while I don’t consider myself an inverted snob or suffer from any class insecurities, I would like to point out that in my school we most certainly did learn music, and drawing and painting but most certainly did not learn poetry.  At least, from what I can remember.  What school did he go to where he didn’t learn music, and drawing and painting?  Certainly wasn’t an East London comprehensive, anyway.

What, you don’t think he went to an East London comprehensive?  Blimey.


  1. You’re lucky. I remember having to trawl through – and memorise – swathes of the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner for o-level.

    Re the Fry book – I got it a couple of years ago when I did A210 and found it immensely helpful – but not to be read at one great sitting, just dipping in and out of. I hope you find it a bit more interesting next time round

  2. I opened the Ode one night at bedtime (my copy is red!), closed it and never opened it again. I have a poetry mental wall and a reference book wall. So instead I splashed out on the CDs….. ermmm….. which are still in their plastic. I will persevere…. 🙂

  3. I didn’t go to school much the last two years, so maybe that’s why I don’t remember any poetry.

    I started reading the Ode from the beginning and it makes more sense now. Although with the BRB to go through, I don’t think I can go through that as well at the same time.

  4. In my opinion, The Ode Less Travelled is an astonishing book. If you sit down and read it, and read the poems referred to and start writing poetry as it suggests (and not just skipping the bits where you need to put the book down and put pencil to paper) you will find that not only will your understanding of the reason and mechanics of poetry improve immeasurably, so will your confidence and ability to actually write the stuff in a way that brings you pleasure and satisfaction.

  5. He went to a lot of schools, but had a very classical education, so not sure what he would have been taught. He got kicked out a lot. Then he some how went to Cambridge, after Jail.

    Need all the help I can get for TMA 3!

    Avoid most poetry like mushrooms(Yuk!), and only remember one or two from schools. Have read more poetry due to Star Trek, than school.

    Keep in mind that Mr Fry, and Mr laurie were in a Documentry the other night, and he does not remember how they met. Apprently it a big problem for him, so his biographys should be fun.

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