There seems to be a day to celebrate everything: from pie to poetry. I like this because it offers many blog writing ideas.
I love poetry, yet I find it difficult to write. I admire so many others who are able to be brief and direct and so beautiful and moving with their poems. I try, but this is less a post about my own poetry as it is about the poems and their poets who inspire and touch me deeply.
My previous post was about Ireland and one of the poets I highly admire just so happens to be Irish: and a Nobel Prize winner of literature: William Butler Yeats.
I first learned of him years ago. The Cranberries had a song on my favourite of their albums, No Need To Argue, entitled Yeats’ Grave. In this song Dolores sings out the lyrics of his poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree, with such loveliness and her well-known brand of haunting melody, speaking lines from his poem in between singing. “Had they the courage equal to desire.” I was instantly drawn in and captivated.
Years later and I found myself on a tour bus, traveling all across Ireland. On the second day our lively and always fun tour guide began talking about Yeats, while The Cranberries played on the speaker in the background, as we entered Drumcliffe in County Sligo. I smiled to myself, not really believing where I was lucky enough to be at that moment in time. He said we would be stopping at W. B. Yeats’ grave.
It was a peaceful place. I stood on the grass with my two friends and fellow travellers and marvelled at my surroundings. It was a poem in itself, if I had more of a chance and ability to write one. My friend showed me the plaque and his tombstone. I remembered that Cranberries song and I heard the lyrics playing loudly inside my head. Yeats wrote about Irish mythology and folklore and I could feel all of that swirling around me, there, on that spot.
My favourite poem is by the great American poet Robert Frost. I first read it in school and it spoke to me immediately: The Road Not Taken. This poem felt like it had been written specifically for me and my life.
I felt then and do now that my own life has always been one of unpredictability. I have never before taken the obvious path in life and have gone down some pretty unexpected roads. It began in high school. I did not go on to post secondary like my peers. I couldn’t handle what life was supposed to be, so instead I decided to follow my own unique path. I often wonder what my life would have been like, if I had been well enough at the time and able to manage the stress and the pressures. I still don’t know, but the path I chose is mine and only mine.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Frost speaks of a wood and a well trodden path, but mine was my own to tread. His symbolism and imagery spoke to me and I never forgot that.
Robert Frost wrote poetry about nature and the natural world, winning him four Pulitzer Prizes. His poem Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening was another I read in school, loving the peaceful feeling it gave me. “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.” I could feel and smell the snow in those woods, could hear the jangling of the horse’s bell, back in a time, years before I was born.
On this World Poetry Day I wanted to salute just a few of the poets I love. I have read a few lately, destined to touch a lot of people. One was just accepted into Wordgathering, a literary magazine for people with disabilities. He writes eloquently about what it feels like to go from living in a visual world to being separated forever from the sighted world. I wish him great success with this poem and his future poetry.
Thank you to all the poets out there who make us all feel so strongly about the little moments and the big things, nature and the human condition. I am comforted every day by your words.
What are some of your favourite poems and poets?
poets.org is an excellent resource for poems and poets.