Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Bit of a Reflection . . .

Let's talk poetry for a minute shall we - not in depth analysis, or relative merits, just poetry in general.

I love poetry. I have at least a shelf of anthologies (yay university), many of them chock full of the stuff. They join the several other shelves (and growing) of poetry already gracing my home.

So, you ask, "Is that a problem?"

Well, on the one hand I have a lot of poetry, but on the other hand, it's not nearly enough.

Hi. My name's Snowball, and I'm a poetry addict.

It fills so many spaces in my life (and my home) that I can't imagine living without it.

Fiction can transport me to different worlds, help me to escape and forget my own problems, if only for a time. Non-fiction can educate me, fill me with rage, fire my compassion, and compel me to action. It pulls me out of myself and into the world.

With poetry on the other hand, the movement is inward, toward my feelings. It helps me to connect with them, make sense of them, and deal with them.  Even though I share the enjoyment of poetry with many others, at its core it's a very private experience.

Poetry gives voice to things I didn't even know I wanted to say, and taps a deep, deep spring, allowing what is inside of me to flow out. Yes, I know that sounds pretentious and, seriously, I don't know how to talk about the way poetry touches me without sounding a bit demented. But it does, you know, touch me deeply.

Don't get me wrong. I don't like every poem I read. Some poetry just leaves me cold. But there is so much beautiful writing, from gifted poets, that I don't need to dwell on those I dislike.

How does poetry touch your life?

Now, how about a poem? This one speaks to the power of the unseen, whether absent or nonexistent.

On the Subject of Poetry
- W.S. Merwin

close up of a water wheel against an old stone wall
I do not understand the world, Father.
By the millpond at the end of the garden
There is a man who slouches listening
To the wheel revolving in the stream, only
There is no wheel there to revolve.

He sits in the end of March, but he sits also
In the end of the garden; his hands are in
His pockets. It is not expectation
On which he is intent, nor yesterday
To which he listens. It is a wheel turning.

When I speak, Father, it is the world
That I must mention. He does not move
His feet nor so much as raise his head
For fear he should disturb the sound he hears
Like a pain without a cry, where he listens.

I do not think I am fond, Father,
Of the way in which always before he listens
He prepares himself by listening. It is
Unequal, Father, like the reason
For which the wheel turns, though there is no wheel.

I speak of him, Father, because he is
There with his hands in his pockets, in the end
Of the garden listening to the turning
Wheel that is not there, but it is the world,
Father, that I do not understand

from: The First Four Books of Poems. Copyright 2000.

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