Gifts of Poetry

I have been playing “poetry tag” today on Facebook. I have resisted other “tag” games, even those for other genres I like a lot (such as artists…that one was tempting). But, I cannot pass on the chance to immerse myself in poetry, so this game was the perfect excuse for indulging in verse on a chilly winter day. As a result, today has been resonant with poems, which has made this ordinary Saturday so much richer, so much more emotional, filled to overflowing with spirit. So, here are a few poems that have crossed my path today that I thought I would share here on my blog, too:

First, I was assigned Jean Valentine and found myself drawn in to the imagery of her poem, The Rose:

a labyrinth,
as if at its center,
god would be there—
but at the center, only rose,
where rose came from,
where rose grows—
& us, inside of the lips & lips:
the likenesses, the eyes, & the hair,
we are born of,
fed by, & marry with,
only flesh itself, only its passage
—out of where? to where?

Then god the mother said to Jim, in a dream,
Never mind you, Jim,
come rest again on the country porch of my knees.

Then, I tagged a friend with Adrienne Rich, and she posted this amazing lyric from her poem, “Song”

You’re wondering if I’m lonely:
OK then, yes, I’m lonely
as a plane rides lonely and level
on its radio beam, aiming
across the Rockies
for the blue-strung aisles
of an airfield on the ocean.
You want to ask, am I lonely?
Well, of course, lonely
as a woman driving across country
day after day, leaving behind
mile after mile
little towns she might have stopped
and lived and died in, lonely
If I’m lonely
it must be the loneliness
of waking first, of breathing
dawns’ first cold breath on the city
of being the one awake
in a house wrapped in sleep
If I’m lonely
it’s with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it’s neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning

There were also lovely posts of poetry from W. B. Yeats. How can any day not be extraordinary when one can be transported to “Innisfree”:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Finally, Facebook noticed I was posting poems and apparently saw fit to place a friend’s “share” of yesterday’s writer’s almanac into my news feed. Yes, every once in a while, Facebook gets it spot on. Or perhaps, the divine works in mysterious ways, even through well placed technological gifts. In this poem, featured on yesterday’s writer’s almanac, Mary Oliver perfectly captures the intensity of the ordinary, summing up for me how these ordinary, daily small points of light I encounter add so much depth and dimension to my daily life:

by Mary Oliver

I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
“Mindful” by Mary Oliver from Why I Wake Early. © Beacon Press, 2005.

I am grateful for these words, these poems, this inspiration that found me so unexpectedly today.

About harasprice

Professor of Social Work and Priest in The Episcopal Church, parent, teacher, learner, writer, advocate, and grateful traveller along this journey through life
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