Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Not a Poetry Lover...and Yet...

A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. -Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

I am by no stretch of the imagination a student of poetry. A large portion of the poetry considered worthy of study in my school days was filled with obscure references and imagery I had no frame of reference for. Teachers weren’t satisfied with how the poem affected me or what I thought it meant. No, there was a right answer that most often lay somewhere just outside my vision and grasp. Having to work that hard just sucked all the life out of the art for me.

Ah, but there were a few, a rare collection of poets and poems that did touch me. Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Carl Sandburg and, later, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Rabindranath Tagore, and Rumi, penned words that could have come from my own mouth, my own heart, or made real for me an experience I can never know first hand. They wrote poems that offered immediate recognition, like being reunited with old friends. My husband has that magic, too; several of his poems paint images more faithful to the truth than any camera can capture. And my Master List of Influential Poets wouldn’t be complete without the songwriters whose lyrics have been my constant companions for so many years…Lyle Lovett, John Prine, Paul Simon, John Mellencamp, Neil Diamond, Melissa Etheridge, J. D. Souther and other alchemists who made gold out of words and rhythm and fire.

The poems and songs that move me all begin in delight and end in wisdom. They delight with rhythm, a cadence and flow that lives and breathes with the words. The poems I love best can be read out loud, the meter echoing the heartbeat of the message. I delight in the sound and the words and the imagery all the way to the end and then there comes the wisdom…the resonance, the fire and passion and soul of the poet, the emotion, the experience. It’s like eating delicious oats, eggs, butter, sugar, walnuts, and raisins…and getting a warm cookie. What a gift it must be to have that magic!

Today, in honor of the many poets who have enriched my walk so far and the many more to come, I’m sharing one of my favorites with you. It’s hard to choose just one. I consoled myself with a reminder that I can always share more later. I invite you to share your own favorites, too, in comments. We’ll create our own mini-anthology.

From Gitanjali, by Rabindranath Tagore:

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy
through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked
in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life
and my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:34 PM

    Oh, that poem's beautiful! Thanks for sharing! ~ zephyr


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