“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.” ~ from Trees by Joyce Kilmer.
Ah Poetry. You do not hear much about poetry these days. Outside of college, where your professor taught you to dissect a poem, to identify its parts and how to dig out the hidden meanings within, when was the last time you read a poem? A poem just for the beauty of it, the humor inside it or the inspiration given?
“O, human love! thou spirit given, On Earth, of all we hope in Heaven!” from Tamerlane by Edgar Allen Poe.
When I was a child, “A Child’s Garden of Verse’s” by Robert Louis Stevenson sparked my love of poetry. Within the pages of that book, there was a wonderland. I still remember those poems, poems like The Land of Nod “But every night I go abroad Afar into the land of Nod.” and The Swing “How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue?” I was lucky to have poetry books in my house growing up and after I devoured them several times, it was off to the library for me. (Remember the library? The big building with books you could borrow for free?) Oh, so many books of poetry for children there. I read them all.
“I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life. It does make them taste kinda funny but it keeps them on my knife”~anonymous
It was in reading those books that I discovered the whimsy of Ogden Nash and my all-time favorite poem. The Tale of Custard the Dragon
“Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.” ~The Tale of Custard the Dragon.
Once I had read all the children’s poems, I moved on. To my disappointment, there were not many books of poetry in the young adult section, so I got a note from my mom that I duly handed over to the librarian giving me permission to go into the adult section, but only for poetry books. (Yes I grew up in the dark ages where children were not free to roam the library or check out books that were considered age inappropriate.)
The poems I found.
I found Robert Frost
“Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold.” ~ From Nothing Gold Can Stay
I found Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“I tell you hopeless grief is passionless, That only men incredulous of despair,”~ from Grief
I found William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. ~ from Invictus
What I found was a land of emotion, a land of imagination, a land of the heart. I found a love of poetry that not even my college professors, those learned men and women with their carving knives of analysis could dim for me. To this day I as I read a poem, I find a friend. Someone who understands my mood at the time and pats me on the back. Someone one who laughs with me or cries with me. Someone who takes my hand gazes in awe of Mother Nature or human nature. A friend.
Introduction to Poetry
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.