On World Poetry Day

He was my first boyfriend. And he loved Walt Whitman. He made PPTs for me with his favorite quotes from Leaves of Grass.

Then came Daniel Ladinsky. And Hafiz. Hafiz and Ladinsky who threw my heart wide, wide open; who showed me that poetry has room for me and mine too.

Why do I love poetry? This:

There are others who welcome the transport poetry provides. They welcome it repeatedly. They desire it so much they start to crave it daily, nightly, nearly abject in their desire, seeking it out the way hungry people seek food. It is spiritual sustenance to them. Bread and wine. A way of transformative thinking. A method of transfiguration. There are those who honor the reality of roots and wings in words, but also want the wings to take root, to grow into the earth, and the roots to take flight, to ascend. They need such Ming and rising, such metaphoric thinking. They are so taken by the ecstatic experience—the overwhelming intensity—of reading poems they have to respond in kind. And these people become poets.

~ Edward Hirsch, How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry

Poetry, more than anything else, is the language of joy for me. It offers solace, reminding me often of what matters to me.

Poetry is this:

Absolutely Clear
Daniel Ladinsky & Hafiz, The Subject Tonight Is Love

Don’t surrender your loneliness
So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,
My need of God

And also this:

If It Is Not Too Dark
Daniel Ladinsky & Hafiz, I Heard God Laughing

Go for a walk, if it is not too dark.
Get some fresh air, try to smile.
Say something kind
To a safe-looking stranger, if one happens
Always exercise your heart’s knowing.
You might as well attempt something real
Along this path:
Take your spouse or your lover into your arms
The way you did when you first met.
Let tenderness pour from your eyes
The way the Sun gazes warmly on the earth.
Play a game with some children.
Extend yourself to a friend.
Sing a few ribald songs to your pets and
Why not let them get drunk and wild!
Let’s toast
Every rung we’ve climbed on Evolution’s
Whisper, “I love you! I love you!”
To the whole mad world.
Let’s stop reading about God—
Jump to your feet, wave your fists,
Threaten and warn the whole Universe
That your heart can no longer live
Without real love!

I hope you encounter a few poems that find a resonance within you and help you start on your own poetic journey!

3 thoughts on “On World Poetry Day

  1. So beautiful again. I think I will remember ‘If It’s Not Too Dark’ forever. ‘Sing a few ribald songs to your pets…’ How thoughtful!

    Thank you, Juhi. :

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve liked poetry so much better since I stopped trying to make it be about something other than how it makes me feel. In school I always wanted it to be describable, and I think it’s better when I’m not trying to describe it. For a while, I was reading a random poem every morning, on the Poetry Foundation website, which was an awesome way to discover new poets — I should get back into doing that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a lovely comment! I think you might be on to something there.

      Poetry is very much about feeling to me. Immediately after that bit that I quoted, Hirsch quotes Emily Dickinson:

      “If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me I know THAT is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know THAT is poetry. These are the only way I know. Is there any other way.”

      He follows that Dickinson quote with:

      “Dickinson recognizes true poetry by the extremity–the actual physical intensity–of her response to it. It’s striking that she doesn’t say she knows poetry because of any intrinsic qualities of poetry itself. Rather, she recognizes it by contact; she knows it by what it does to her, and she trusts her own response.”

      “She knows it by what it does to her, and she trusts her own response” is pretty much how I feel about poetry too!

      And speaking of descriptive, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, feels like a story to me. I love reading it out loud to feel myself dissolve in its rhythms and vision!

      And one of my favorite ways to discover poems is a yahoo group called Panhala. It features poetry and poets whose works speaks to me.


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