“A little bit of poetry is a vitamin for the spirit.”

April and National Poetry Month are almost over but a little bit of poetry every day is a good habit to cultivate, so in the next couple of days, let’s indulge and cultivate the habit. To start the habit off right, let me offer a few “personal rules” that help make poetry the pleasure it should be.

~ Read a poem more than once —the first read helps you figure out what the poem is trying to tell you; the second read delivers many of a poem’s gifts—the sounds, the subtleties, the nuances, the different images the poem is painting with words.

~ Read poetry that captures all of your many moods—from sad to happy, silly to reflective— and everything in between.

~ Read poetry that you like and enjoy. Don’t get caught up in trying to find the “hidden meaning.”  One of my favorite poems on this subject is by Jean Little.

“After English Class” by Jean Little

I used to like ” Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
I liked the coming darkness,
The jingle of harness bells, breaking—and adding to
–the stillness,
The gentle drift of snow…
But today, the teacher told us what everything stood for.
The woods, the horse, the miles to go, the sleep—
They all have “hidden meanings.”
It’s grown so complicated now that,
Next time I drive by, I don’t think I’ll bother to stop.

How would you describe what a poem is to some one who had never before encountered a poem? To me, a poem paints a picture using words and like no other form (except for maybe music) names and describes a feeling.  Samuel Taylor Coleridge said a poem is simply the “best words in the best order.” W.H. Auden said poetry is “memorable speech.” A.E. Housman said a poem must send a “a shiver down the spine.”

Do you think you don’t like poetry?  Do you think you love poetry? —either way you must meet Jack in Love that Dog, by Sharon Creech. I am quite sure you will be glad you did!

P.S. Did you know that “To make poetry” in the Inuit language is the same word as  “to breathe”?


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