Oonagh Lahr, Poet

Oonagh Lahr

Oonagh Lahr was born in London in 1929 and was first educated by her father, Charles Lahr, then at a convent school, later a grammar school, then Royal Holloway College, London University, the University of Bristol, later the Shakespeare Institute of the University of Birmingham and finally in the late sixties in HM Prison Holloway as a result of her Committee of 100 civil disobedience.

Oonagh has taught adults most of her life: one-to-one unpaid; at the Workingmen’s College for twenty years unpaid; at Dacorum College of Further Education for twenty years paid. She now pays to teach at the University of the Third Age.

The most important event in her teaching career was her move from teaching English and English literature to teaching Greek literature in translation.

Oonagh suddenly started to write poetry at the age of twenty eight as an alternative to a nervous breakdown and as an  inspired response to the collapse of her academic career.

Comparative literature, sculpture and painting are her favourite diversions. Oonagh Lahr’s favourite poets are Homer and Shakespeare.

Idea Fine Art
July 2005

About the poems

Please return regularly for new scholarly articles on the art of poetry. The first of these is Sestina.


This Wooden O would not have appeared but for the magnanimity of two people whom I cannot thank enough.

First, my niece Dr Esther Leslie, who in time stolen from her own book, put together and personally typed out my poems for a book, encouraging me to go into print. When I flagged she carried on working at it, and when I took it up again working co-operatively did all kinds of collating, checking and correcting most diligently.

Then, my friend André Durand who got me started again and with his technical and artistic skills made the fine design of the book and the website while injecting me with confidence to do my part, also to the neglect of his own painting. It was André who with his painter's genius, saw instantly that the Apollo of Dürer, once I had mentioned it, would inform and set off all the poems in this Wooden Ode, where it could, by the expression of details, illuminate more than one poem, creating a unique conjunction of word and form.

Access reproduction rights for this publication of the Apollo & Diana drawing by Dürer by courtesy of British Museum Images.

Some of these poems, written in the 1960s and 70s appeared in various publications including the Peace News, the Scotsman, Socialist Leader and Cuddon’s International Review. Strictly for the Birds, A Responsible Position and Centaurs were broadcast on Radio Three's Poetry Now on 13th May 1969. The Advance on the Retreat and Lorelei appeared in Saul Bellow’s Noble Savage 4 and the sestina The Advance on the Retreat in Laurence Durrell’s anthology for PEN New Poems 1963; Somewhat Bigger than Eros in Twentieth Century Winter 1963/4.

This Wooden O

Part I
Somewhat Bigger than Eros

Part II
Like a Meaning

This Wooden O includes forty-six poems by Oonagh Lahr.
The book was designed and published by Idea Fine Art, London,
in an edition of 100 copies signed by the author plus 10 printer's proofs.
A limited number of copies is available for purchase.

To buy, please email Idea Fine Art.

This Wooden O | Part I | Part II | Oonagh Lahr | Idea Fine Art
All works copyright © Oonagh Lahr 2000 - 2005 All Rights Reserved Access reproduction rights for this publication of the Apollo & Diana drawing by Dürer are courtesy of The British Museum, London, United Kingdom