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The lovely Squeetleynn* over at Sprigs (which my fingers insisted on typing as 'spring' 3x) has been inspiring me and her readers with some wondrous word-art of the loveliest kind: poetry. She didn't know I have a passion for it, which makes me think that particular love of mine hasn't come through very clearly here in my journal.

What kind of poetry you like is so personal, or to put it another way, one person's poetry is another man's poison. I think perhaps it's a little bit like sharing song lyrics. Even though YOU can hear the song in your head when you type those words out, and whatever it is about that song may be moving you profoundly as you write it, it's very doubtful that readers get the same impression. I think most of the time that you can't enjoy the text without the music, but that's not always the case...sometimes song lyrics ARE poetry.

Anyway, I've been in love with poetry since I was a wee thing, and my mom was reading me Wynken, Blynken & Nod and The Owl & the Pussycat. All through my school years I found poets that spoke to me, that raised the hair on the back of my neck, that made me smile or cry, or just plain blew me away. Even though I love many of the old classics (Shakespeare never gets old, does he?) I keep finding new poets that blow me away. There is something about the magic of putting words together well that I find more inspiring, more motivating, more happy-making and more wonderful than nearly anything else.

It doesn't have to be serious poetry, and it doesn't have to be formal, or even free-form. Sometimes the poems that get me are silly and rhyme-y and sometimes they're solemn and sonnety. Being an English major was a great excuse to buy volumes of poetry and I still have a couple of shelves full of favorites: Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, William Stafford, e.e. cummings, Mary Oliver, May Swenson, Elizabeth Bishop, Theodore Roethke, Pablo Neruda, Wallace Stevens, Annie Dillard, Ursula K. Le Guin, Marge Piercy, just to name a very, very few.

What I want a poem to do when I read it is stop me in my tracks, blow the top of my head off, make the back of my throat tender, pull a startled laugh from my stomach, raise my eyes and my shoulders in agreement, sing to me softly, become mine.


Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen

Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt

Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead

How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye

With cloud for shift
how will I hide?

~ May Swenson

What poem does the same for you?

Bright and Sunny, Really Funny, Wonder-Bunny Happy Birthday Wishes to brief_therapy!

Sweet and Silly, Frosting-Filled, Happy Birthday Wishes to sweet_pickles!

*Hee! I had to use it just once!
mood: recumbent
music: Katie Melua—Piece By Piece

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Thanks for the birthday wishes!

The poem that does it for me is a golden oldie by Robert Frost. I think I love it partly because I was in a music camp where we sang a version that was put to the most beautiful music, but the words touch my motherly soul.

The Pasture

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan't be gone long. -- You come too.

I'm going out to fetch the little calf
That's standing by the mother. It's so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I shan't be gone long. -- You come too.

He still gets me, too. :)

Ursula K. Le Guin wrote poetry? how could i have missed that? i own almost every sci-fi novel she wrote.

i think the poem that gets to me the most is Three Women by Sylvia Plath. it's a long one, so i'll refrain from clogging up your journal... unless you want me to, lol.

She did, indeed. I think I have at least 2 books of short stories that alos have poetry in them. Her poems are wonderful.

I had to share two that really evoke strong feelings in me, of two different kinds:

This Is Just to Say
by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold


O WESTERN WIND - Middle English Lyric

O Western wind, when wilt thou blow
That the small rain down can rain?
Christ, that my love were in my arms,
And I in my bed again!

I've sung that Western Wind as a round :)

Mending Wall by Robert Frost has always struck a chord in me. I don't know why, but it just reaches in and grabs me deep down.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing...

Frost is a marvel :)

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W.B. Yeats

I love the imagery of the sky as fabric, that's so often how I see it too.

I Confess

I stalked her
in the grocery store; her crown
of snowy braids held in place by a great silver clip
her erect bearing, radiating tenderness,
the way she placed yogurt and avocadoes in her basket,
beaming peace like the North Star.
I wanted to ask, “What aisle did you find
your serenity, do you now
how to be married for fifty years, or how to live alone,
excuse me for interrupting, but you seem to possess
some knowledge that makes the earth burn and turn on its axis.”
But we don’t request such things from strangers
nowadays. So I said, “I love your hair.”

-Alison Luterman

I remember you posting this a while ago and I remember loving it then too.

Emily Brönte's "Night" is one that gives me the chills and exhilarates at the same time.

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow,
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow,
And the storm is fast descending
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

And Sylvia Plath's "Child"

Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.
I want to fill it with color and ducks,
The zoo of the new
Whose name you meditate --
April snowdrop, Indian pipe,

Stalk without wrinkle,
Pool in which images
Should be grand and classical

Not this troublous
Wringing of hands, this dark
Ceiling without a star.

I adore Dickinson. She is the most amazing poet, so spare with her words and so rich with her images and emotions.

Invitation to Love
~Paul Lawrence Dunbar

COME when the nights are bright with stars
Or when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene'er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd'ning cherry.
Come when the year's first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter's drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.

that is just beautiful, and new to me, thank you!


This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open -
pools of lace,
white and pink -
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities -
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again -
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?

-- Mary Oliver

Each and every time I read this poem I find myself breathlessly answering: "Yes, I DO. I DO hurry, half-dressed and barefoot into the garden, and I DO exclaim of their dearness, and I DO fill my arms with the white and pink flowers, because they ARE wild and perfect."

I LOVE this poem. :) I have it saved. Mary Oliver rocks.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

I have 3 of her books, I LOVE her. I've loved her FOREVER :)

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

:) silly old bear. You can probably google it...there's a lot of her poetry online.

I've always had trouble reading poetry because the words are so weighted that I can't skim it. It makes me consciously slow down, but I get frustrated because my eyes are hurrying up to the next word before I've fully grasped the ones I've just read.

I think that's one of the best things about poetry, that it slows you down. It makes you stop. It makes you read it twice. It makes you SAVOR.

I am love, love, loving this post & the responses!!! Here's mine--by Mary Oliver. Each time I come to it, I find something new.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I love this poem, too. It's one of my favorites. I get goosebumps every time I read it.


I'll share the second poem that made me want to write poetry. You won't recognize it because it's not by a famous poet. An undergraduate student at my school wrote it her senior year. She was a very good writer and went on to get an MFA, but she was still an unknown. This poem makes me fall apart. I got chills just typing it up.

* * *


The man I love cooks me potatoes,
lifted out from the basement
by good, solid feel.
He shows me what this means
by his hands, open-ended,
fitted for wooden handles
or for the smooth bone of a book.
A bare hand, he tells me,
washes a potato best.

I like to stand beside
while he carves them open,
the uneven wedges bright as soap,
darker underside.
In a year he's cut many more
like these, brought up from below,
to be left rustling in oil
as he tells me:
how his mother waited years
to emerge, or how his pigeons
flocked the sky,
stunned from freedom.

I have heard of potatoes
that flower in the heat,
burst their skins
in flushed, white tears,
a way that soil
had everything to do.

I sit across from him now,
my eyes closed,
turning the warm potato
over in my mouth,
simple with salt.
I could be anywhere, I think,
Korea, Russia, Peru.
But this taste I would always know.

-Daisy Rhau

* * *


I got chills reading it...both the first and the second time. Do you have more of her poetry?

I had never read that Swenson poem before - it is great, haunting.

I really liked the poems that others submitted, some new, some I have read before. I read in blog land that somebody started Poetry Thursdays, and I remembered yesterday that Thursday came and gone and I completely forgot. Maybe next week.

Meanwhile, while reading through the responses to your post, the poem that comes to mind for me is:

Night Is My Sister, and How Deep In Love

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

Night is my sister, and how deep in love,
How drowned in love and weedily washed ashore,
There to be fretted by the drag and shove
At the tide's edge, I lie—these things and more:
Whose arm alone between me and the sand,
Whose voice alone, whose pitiful breath brought near,
Could thaw these nostrils and unlock this hand,
She could advise you, should you care to hear.
Small chance, however, in a storm so black,
A man will leave his friendly fire and snug
For a drowned woman's sake, and bring her back
To drip and scatter shells upon the rug.
No one but Night, with tears on her dark face,
Watches beside me in this windy place.

That was gorgeous. I don't know her poetry very well, thanks for the lovely poem and the chance to go check out a poet I should know better. :)

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