in the company of LYRIC VERSE
Greetings! Welcome to an adventure through place and time.
Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind.
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.
— Billy Collins, in “The Trouble With Poetry”
This blog is an ongoing compiling and sharing of selections from the world’s lyrical verse—mostly written in or translated into English—with a view to strengthening anyone’s familiarity and fluency with the English language, and . . . simply bringing to light some of what it might mean to be a human being. I hope that these pieces of poetry touch you unforgettably and move you deeply. The lines you commit to memory, learn ‘by heart’, become your own.
I like the way in which pastor and author Eugene Peterson describes our experience of poetry—as an acceptance of a poet’s invitation to us to climb in and play a part in this new reality he / she has created:
“(The poet) makes an image of reality in such a way as to invite our participation in it. We do not have more information after we read a poem, we have more experience . . . Poetry grabs for the jugular. Far from being cosmetic language, it is intestinal. It is root language. . . . Poets tell us what our eyes, blurred with too much gawking, and our ears, dulled with too much chatter, miss around and within us. Poets use words to drag us into the depth of reality itself.”
(Reversed Thunder, 1988; Answering God, 1989)
Though I’m not a literature or poetry specialist, when I encounter a poem I like it’s a wonderfully heart-opening and connecting experience . . . the opportunity for such engagement is what I wish to share with you. The selected pieces speak clearly and simply, they don’t require a lot of outside knowledge in order to be understood. I do my best to clarify, from time to time, words and specific concepts that might be out-of-date or otherwise unusual.
May each of us, in reading these wordsmiths’ verses, delight in such gifts of spirit, imagination and conscience, in the beauty of language masterfully deployed . . . and grow in respect and compassion toward each other and all beings who share our world.
Again to hold — ‘capture’ they say —
moments and their processions in palm
of mind’s hand.
Have you ever,
in stream or sea,
felt the silver of fish
pass through your hand-hold? not to stop it,
block it from going onward, but feel it
move in its wave-road?
of song a chalice,
a communion wine.
— Denise Levertov, in “Entr’acte”
Thank-you so much for your company. It’s my hope that you can find something here that you recognize as carrying a seed of meaning for you, something that reminds you what it is that is important to you, dear to you, worth your care as you participate in the world. Please visit the POETINDEX page for an alphabetical list of the poets (and their work) represented thus far in the blog posts. All comments and suggestions most welcome!
Poetry for Learning and Life