“That you are here -that life exists and identity
That the powerful play goes on,
And you may contribute a verse”-O Me, O Life by Walt Whitman.
During these surreal pandemic times, there are bound to be those chaotic and uncertain blue mornings, some riddled with anxiety, others colored by existential angst. On such bleary mornings, I clutch these words to my chest.
I am a flag-waving reader and advocate of poetry, as it has brought me out of dark places and it keeps bringing me out. Physical spaces in my life are riddled with poetry quotes, from a bedside note to my computer screen.
Poetry may seem inconsequential in the light of a serious and practical world, but that is why I love it all the more. It allows us to explore what lies beyond the limits, it shows us the power of transcendence that words and language can hold. I love poetry because it makes me pause to pay attention, to wonder.
What more do I love about poetry?
I love how it can illuminate parts of yourself that you didn’t know to look at otherwise. How a line of sparse poetry can be a lifeline.
What wonderful, wonderful words.
I love how it can speak to you intimately, how it’s a window into the poet’s thoughts and feelings, as well as yours. The first time I read Daffodils by William Wordsworth, I was in my second year in high school, and I remember how warm and fuzzy those words made me feel. Here I am many years later and that hasn’t changed.
I love how it inspires the human spirit, how it provokes, how it stirs. Anytime I read Invictus by William Henley I am filled with this rush of assurance that perhaps I can get my life together after all:
I love how it offers us a way to empathize with one another.
I can’t explain it but sometimes when I’m sad, I feel better after reading a sad poem. (I am a psychopath perhaps?) For example, the poem Driving through the Wreckage is not a particularly happy one but it somehow makes me feel better about everything.
I love how poetry helps us remember. I am a shameless full grown adult who still recites the poem Thirty Days hath September to recall the months instead of checking my phone calendar.
Most of all, I love how poetry licenses the poet to toy with language.
In my most gracious benevolence, I shall dish out some poems and poetry collections recommendations.
If you are into the medieval and classics, check out:
Sonnet 43 by E.B Browning, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (I love this poem with my entire soul), Hope is The Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson, Promise Yourself by C.L Larson, and The Dash Poem by Linda Ellis.
If you have a more contemporary taste, check out these collections:
Milk and Honey; The Sun and Her Flowers, both by Rupi Kaur (every single poem is a hit), Bone by Ysra Daley Ward (shook me to my innermost core) and Questions for Ada by Ijeoma Umebinyuo.
I hope they provide you some comfort as they have for me.
What are your favourite poems?