Monday, March 17, 2008

A Poem A Day

I just recently got around to reading Jeannette Winterson’s January column.
As usual she lifts my spirit. Please visit her website to read her full essay and other pieces.
For January she says:

“Honour the fate you are”…

I don’t want it to sound like I believe in pre-destination – fate is never that, but it is the web of possibilities from which we unthread our particular journey.
It may be that we don’t honour ourselves enough – in the sense of respecting our real nature – actual and developing.
The business of trying to be ourselves is a full-time occupation – which is not to say give up your job and your family, but is to say don’t be troubled by the size of the task.
Individuality is not a small thing.

I have said many times that I believe poetry can make a huge difference to how we feel about ourselves and about ourselves in the world.
I have just been reading The Letters of Ted Hughes, really engaging stuff,
and well worth getting hold of.
He says somewhere what I have found for myself, that reading poetry out loud is revelatory.

It is in part the incantation, which is ancient and mystical,
something we used to do, and rarely do now.
It is in part the sound and feel of breath, your breath mingling with the breath of the poet.
It is in part recitation, the pleasure of pushing the thing out of your body at the same time as taking it into the body.

I find that if I recite something a few times, I can learn it without really trying – though I know this happens through habit, and won’t happen to someone straightaway.
But it will fend off memory loss, and it will give you something to play with in your head the next time you are stuck on a tube-train, or in a queue, or any other situation that requires personal resources, great or small.

In any case, poetry is such an antidote to babble
that a dose of it once a day reminds us what language is – and what it isn’t.

Try it for the New Year – a poem every day read outloud... Think of it as a stretch exercise.

Inspired, I went looking for a poem and found none that really suited…
End of blog.
Until today.

Love Like Salt

It lies in our hands in crystals
too intricate to decipher

It goes into the skillet
without being given a second thought

It spills on the floor so fine
we step all over it

We carry a pinch behind each eyeball

It breaks out on our foreheads

We store it inside our bodies
in secret wineskins

At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays and the sea.

Lisel Mueller

No comments: