Like every young girl, I fancied myself a poet from the ages of twelve through sixteen. I filled notebook upon notebook with angsty couplets about boys on whom I had crushes and my (mostly) self-imposed alienation from my peers. It took a college poetry writing class for me to discover how truly difficult it is to write phrases that are moving without being trite. It is work best left to those far more talented than I!
I didn't really read any poetry in my younger years. My only exposure was the half a unit that we did every semester in high school English classes. It wasn't until I got to college and took my first literature class that I was introduced to writers of words the really shook me to my core.
The first was Edna St. Vincent Millay. We read Fatal Interview for class and I found myself repeating the sonnets over and over again, whispered under my breath. The first poem that she ever wrote, "Renascence" became a meditative mantra. Any time that I found myself in a season of my life where confusion and desperation reigned, I found solace in her words:
All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.
Over these things I could not see:
These were the things that bounded me...
Can you believe she was only 18 when she wrote that? I always wanted to memorize the entire poem (it's a long one!), but never quite got around to it.
Ranier Maria Rilke was next, first reading him in a translation class. I had the following words piped onto our wedding cake in both English and the original German:
Extinguish my eyes, I'll go on seeing you.
Seal my ears, I'll go on hearing you.
And without feet I can make my way to you,
without a mouth I can swear your name.
Break off my arms, I'll take hold of you
with my heart as with a hand.
Stop my heart, and my brain will start to beat.
And if you consume my brain with fire,
I'll feel you burn in every drop of my blood.
A bit melodramatic? Perhaps. But then again, so am I, so it seemed fitting.
Tracey over at Clover always opens her blog posts with the most thoughtfully chosen poems and quotes. I love it. I love how those words set the tone and mood for what is to follow. I love how the cadence lingers with me throughout the day after reading them. I love slowing down and pausing to really (I mean really) think about what words mean when we string them together. I love that she takes the time to include them. Poetry is so absent from our daily lives and I think that's a tragedy.
I would like to inject a little more poetry into my everyday. I have a very small collection of poetry books that are housed in a cabinet by the front door. I think that when I opened it to take these photos, it was the first time they'd seen the light of day in three years. So, that's the place to start. Even though National Poetry Month isn't until April, I'm going to select a volume that calls out to me and leave it out where it is accessible. Trying to set aside a quiet moment to read and ponder a single poem each day. Hopefully, Silas is amenable, because, really, it's for him too. I want him to grow up with a love of language and literature and he won't develop that spontaneously.
Do you have any suggestions for good, quality children's books of poetry? Or even just poetry suggestions in general. I always love sharing in the favorites of others.