I know a lot of people don’t enjoy or appreciate poetry. I may be incredibly biased but that is always difficult for me to comprehend, particularly when someone says they hate poetry, but love music. Song lyrics are pretty much just that. Poetry, set to music.
Well-written poetry touches me on a very deep level, and I’m sharing five of my favorites in hopes that you’ll enjoy them too. I’ve chosen short poems, so give them a read, will you? You might find out you enjoy poetry more than you think.
While I am a sucker for a good love poem, sometimes I prefer darker, heavier poetry to the flowery stuff. I’m not sure what that says about me, but as an example, here is my all time favorite poem.
There’s a certain Slant of light – Emily Dickinson
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
I won’t go into what the poem means to me personally, but I think we all have moments in life that are forever fossilized by a certain slant of light, a certain smell, a certain sound. Reconnecting with those moments and allowing yourself to bask in that emotion for just a moment can be soul-quenching.
If you’ve never read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, it touches on the idea of embracing emotions wholeheartedly, then picking up and moving on. It’s a great book, and you can easily read it in a day.
This next poem starts out almost cutesy, but has a very real message. Mamas, prepare to say amen a lot.
Woman Work– Maya Angelou
I’ve got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I’ve got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The cane to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.
Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again.
Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
‘Til I can rest again.
Fall gently, snowflakes
Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight.
How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43) – Elizabeth Barrett Browning
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
This one you might recognize if you have ever seen Dead Poet’s Society. Cliffs Notes: What is the meaning of life?
O Me! O Life! – Walt Whitman
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
And last but not least, there is this beauty that I posted on Instagram earlier this week (okay last week, when World Poetry Day actually was, but stomach viruses don’t pay any attention to blog post schedules).
Aehd Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven– W.B. Yeats
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
And if that’s not enough for you, the picture accompanying this post comes from this little treat. Who doesn’t love a good, creepy, children’s poem?
Bonus points if you can name which Disney movie the poem appeared in.