The Power of Poetry
Language has the power to create, destroy, to build up or tear down, to affirm or to reject. Poetry is the form language takes by those who seek to communicate from a place of deep-felt need. Poetry takes many forms, and the poetry we like speaks to us in unique and individual ways. Great poetry speaks across time, the ages, culture, belief, and experience. April is National Poetry Month, and in honor of this celebration, I asked readers to share the poetry that most touched them. Here are some of the responses.
My friend, writer and counselor, Kate Miller from Pebble Beach, California, shared a poem she wrote:
My Dear Little Child
do not fear the dark
and quietly lay down your head.
Night Angels are visiting the stars right now
bringing magic light to your bed.
So close your eyes and dream of Love
and Angels with silver wings.
For through the night
as you sleep
the Angels shall guard your dreams.
Artist, Tammy von Payens and her son, Alex, shared the following experience they had with a poem:
“He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in.” – — Edwin Markham
Alex and I just discussed this one. It’s ALWAYS good. We visualized the actual drawing of circles in the sand, then we talked about the non-tangible circles and Love.
From author and artist, Adair Heitmann from Connecticut comes the following favorites and her comments:
Adair wrote, “My favorite poet is Mary Oliver, any of her poems. The ones in the moment of reading them that make my breath stop, my heart leap, even my stomach drop are my favorites. Here’s one:”
I don’t want to live a small life
I don’t want to live a small life. Open your eyes,
Open your hands. I have just come
From the berry fields, the sun
Kissing me with its golden mouth all the way
(open your hands) and the wind-winged clouds
Following along thinking perhaps I might
Feed them, but no I carry these heart-shapes
only to you. Look how many how small
but so sweet and maybe the last gift
I will ever bring to anyone in this
world of hope and risk, so do.
Look at me. Open your life, open your hands.
Adair also added, “[I also like] the everyday poetry of William Carlos Williams, especially:
This is just to say
I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox
And which you were probably saving for breakfast
They were delicious
So sweet and so cold
We are often touched deeply by those writers in our lives who not only speak to our hearts, but also who enter our lives through love. Adair Heitmann shares her thoughts and a beautiful haiku,
“Also, my chosen godmother out of love, Japanese/American poet, writer, artist Kazue Mizumura, from her book, Flower, Moon, Snow: A Book of Haiku. She was like a second mother to me.”
Is it waiting just for me,
The one wildflower
In the empty lot?
One of the many favorites in our home is the lovely book, Chicken Soup and Rice, by Maurice Sendak. Carole King has put the poetry in this book to song, and it is a wonderful way to learn the months of the year. Listening to my granddaughter reciting this book, is a treasure in my memory. Here is the verse about April:
In April I will go away
to far off Spain or old Bombay
and dream about hot soup all day.
oh my oh once
oh my oh twice,
oh my oh chicken soup with rice.
by Maurice Sendak
Another delightful favorite at our home is Fairy Went A Marketing. Visit this website to read the entire poem and enjoy an adventure into fairyland.
One of my favorite poems, is a famous verse written by William Shakespeare in his play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Quality of Mercy…
The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God’s
When mercy seasons justice.
Share your favorite poetry with your family and friends, this month and all year long. See if spending time with poetry doesn’t change your life in ways that add to your own love of language and communication.