Although National Poetry Day is a British holiday, I am honoring it anyway. A bit late, too.
Poetry is so diverse. It can rhyme. It can flow and roll or it can punch you in the gut. It can make you cry or laugh. Or both.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
I can feel the rhythm as I read. And the words… Love. But who doesn’t love Robert’s stop in the woods that snowy eve? (Don’t answer that. If you don’t like this, I’d rather not know. I’m not sure we could be friends anymore.)
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Oh, how many times have I warned my son to beware the Jabberwock, I do not know. But he was reciting it at 4 years old. All chortling in his joy.
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
Let’s just bask in the beauty of these lines and not continue to the hateful fantasies Oberon plans to inflict upon Titania. Good times. Gotta love The Bard. (If anyone calls me on this being a play not a poem, I shall hex them with a ladybug infestation. You have been warned.)
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Ah, Dylan. I’m raging, dude. I will not go gentle.
Okay, let’s get serious. Because poetry is serious. Actually, it’s not. It is what it is. People say they don’t “get” poetry. I get that. I used to say it. But poetry is what you make it. It’s what you take away from it.
Shakespeare, Blake, Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Poe, Longfellow, Burns, Frost, Thomas, Browning…so many, many more. They each have touched me and changed me. It could be a single poem or a collection—doesn’t matter.
Emily Dickinson is the poet who has influenced me the most. Maybe because she’s awesome. Maybe because her words came along at the right time in my life to resonate deeply with me. I don’t know. But I have a book of her poetry with faded highlights from over twenty years ago. Those words are nostalgic and beautiful.
Poetry is everywhere.
It’s the clouds drifting through the sky, the squirrels scurrying up a pine tree, the leaves losing chlorophyll and blazing bright red, your morning coffee with steam swirling out of the mug, a hug from your child. It’s a book of words highlighted by your own hand twenty years earlier. Some writers can weave words so prettily it makes you cry. And I love them. But there are also words that fill your heart when you live in the moment.
Poetry is every day.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost
Jabberwoky – Lewis Carroll
Midsummer Night’s Dream / Act 2, Scene 1 – William Shakespeare
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night – Dylan Thomas
This is my letter to the World – Emily Dickinson
My Sunday thoughts in…way over 200 words.