Poetry (October 17)


“All men need something to poetize and idealize their life a little — something which they value for more than its use and which is a symbol of their emancipation from the mere materialism and drudgery of daily life” (Theodore E. Parker).

THERE’S A GOOD CHANCE SOME OF THE PEOPLE MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF YOU BECAME A LITTLE MORE POETIC. No, you don’t necessarily need to start writing poetry, and you don’t even need to start reading more poetry (although both of those practices have more to recommend them than you might expect). You simply need to start living a life that is more poetic. In literature, as we all know, there is prose (think “information”) and there is poetry (think “music”). Now, comparing the lives that we lead to literature, aren’t there two different parts: the prosaic part of life and the poetic part? Don’t our activities fall into two general categories: business and beauty? The answer is yes. And the point is that we all could do with a little more of the poetic.

One of the definitions of a poet is “one who is gifted in the perception and expression of the beautiful or lyrical.” Christopher Fry said it well: “Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.” Whether we realize it or not, we are being poetic — and we are enjoying poetry — any time we (a) stop to notice that which is beautiful or lyrical, and (b) express our enjoyment in honest ways.

But if there’s a dearth of poetry in your life, don’t excuse it by saying, “I have too much important work to do, and besides, the people around me aren’t very poetic.” Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it on others; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.” The world is full of poetry. There is simply no excuse for not enjoying it.

Whoever we are, we tend to become more poetic when we’re under the influence of powerful thoughts and feelings, and what could be more powerful than love? We’ve all been in love, and in love, we’ve all felt at least a slight tug in the direction of the poetic. I happen to believe the tug should be yielded to. There is much to be amazed at, whether it’s love or just the wide world itself. When we’re amazed by beauty or by virtue, we ought to let ourselves “sing” about it.

“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet” (Plato).

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com

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