I advocate taking a daily mini-retreat into the beauty and soul-nourishment of reading poetry.
Poetry speaks to us through image and metaphor—the language of our souls. If you read poetry out loud it also feeds our need for music and rythym—beauty taken in through our ears.
We feel poetic language in our bodies: it connects us to our senses, to ourselves and the world around us. The surprising observations and connections made in poetry bring new perspective and freshness to even daily mundanities. Poetry can nurture our imagination, offer inspiration and even provide healing balm for our wounds.
Add another level of nurturance by memorizing your favorite poems: it’s good for your heart, your soul and your brain. You will always have it with you when you need it and it will live within you in ways that it never would by being stored in your smart phone. But don’t take my word for it—try it for yourself!
Maybe even better-write your own poetry. If you've never written a poem before, I would be happy to help you change that.
In the club car that morning I had my notebook
open on my lap and my pen uncapped,
looking every inch the writer
right down to the little writer’s frown on my face,
but there was nothing to write
about except life and death
and the low warning sound of the train whistle.
I did not want to write about the scenery
that was flashing past, cows spread over a pasture,
hay rolled up meticulously —
things you see once and will never see again.
But I kept my pen moving by drawing
over and over again
the face of a motorcyclist in profile —
for no reason I can think of —
a biker with sunglasses and a weak chin,
leaning forward, helmetless,
his long thin hair trailing behind him in the wind.
I also drew many lines to indicate speed,
to show the air becoming visible
as it broke over the biker’s face
the way it was breaking over the face
of the locomotive that was pulling me
toward Omaha and whatever lay beyond Omaha
for me and all the other stops to make
before the time would arrive to stop for good.
We must always look at things
from the point of view of eternity,
the college theologians used to insist,
from which, I imagine, we would all
appear to have speed lines trailing behind us
as we rush along the road of the world,
as we rush down the long tunnel of time —
the biker, of course, drunk on the wind,
but also the man reading by a fire,
speed lines coming off his shoulders and his book,
and the woman standing on a beach
studying the curve of horizon,
even the child asleep on a summer night,
speed lines flying from the posters of her bed,
from the white tips of the pillowcases,
and from the edges of her perfectly motionless body.
STARLINGS IN WINTER
Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,
dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
becomes for a moment fragmented,
then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine
how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,
this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;
I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want
to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.