As we conclude our consideration of poetry this week, some questions loom large: Is life poetry? Is life poetic? How can we find the poetic in life – in love, in grief, in everyday things, in all kinds of health or illness, difficulty, stress, happiness, betrayal, joy . . . in all of the human experience?
Probably we’ve all written some kind of poetry – or at the very least, thought about it. Here’s a line from an unfinished poem which, I think, exemplifies a way to experience life as poetic:
I saw a double blue star once through a telescope on a cold Arizona night
And the desert provided the purity of darkness to allow only the star to show.
Hardly great poetry, but these two lines take me back to an extraordinarily happy evening which can be revisited using my attempt at poetry. I know the special circumstances that the double blue star represents in a delicious field of pure darkness. Each of us has these kinds of memories and experiences that can form a way of relating to life as poetic.
Who out there writes poetry – even if you never share it? Have you ever written to someone you love? Has anyone ever written poetry for you? How special is that to you? Do you read your poetry to your children, your significant other, your friends, your family? Would you like to confidentially send in some of your poetry and / or post it to the new beta site:
Happy Friday and Happy Mother’s Day to Mothers Everywhere, Including Our Mother Earth !
No discussion of poetry would be even remotely complete without mention of love poems. Most likely, all of us have at least one favorite. Whether or not we can recite it, there’s usually something that we have heard that has touched our hearts.
Here’s my favorite – and it’s best read aloud. I invite you to think about your favorite and to share it with someone you love today. Poetry can connect our hearts.
i carry your heart with me i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
~ e. e. cummings
Please write me and tell me your favorite love poems. You can also post (so everyone can share) on the Study Hall blog beta site at:
A few years ago, I had the privilege of hearing poet, David Whyte, speak. He has made it his life’s work to get poetry to as many people as possible because it’s such a life saver. Whyte is Welsh, and he has a wonderfully deep baritone voice that one could listen to all day and still want more.
Here’s a link where you can hear him read his poem Everything Is Waiting For You and discuss his views on poetry. My favorite line is: Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
Whyte says that poetry “gives you a language that makes you able for the world – large enough for it and not to hide from it – whereas our strategic, empirical language is constantly trying to give you a read-out into which you can retreat and to say, If you get competent in this area, you’ll be safe. And it’s not true. There’s no area of competency you can enter that will keep you safe from the disappearances of life.”
How do you feel about Whyte’s point of view? Do you agree with him that poetry provides a special way of interacting in the world? Is your experience of poetry that it is empowering? Do you think poetry can be a life saver?
History was made last week with the appointment of Britain’s first woman Poet Laureate in the 341 years of the existence of the position. It’s telling that Carol Ann Duffy will receive an annual stipend equal to $8,500; yet, it’s a great milestone to have broken the gender barrier even if it did take three and a half centuries.
In the U.S., Louise Bogen was appointed its first woman Poet Laureate in 1945 (the fourth U.S. Poet Laureate overall). The current Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan, is charged with raising the national consciousness of poetry, and she’s paid $35,000 annually. Ryan writes in a poem called Hide and Seek:
“It’s hard not to jump out instead of waiting to be found. It’s hard to be alone so long and then hear someone come around. It’s like some form of skin’s developed in the air that, rather than have you torn, you tear.”
Some might consider poetry like this frivolous; others consider it essential. Where do you stand? Is there a practical role for poetry in our lives? How might you incorporate poetry into your life? If it were up to you, how valued or not valued would the Poet Laureate of a country be?