Bookworm: Great poetry leaves its mark on hearts, minds

Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:28 a.m.

"The time has come,' the Walrus said,

To talk of many things:

Of shoes - and ships - and sealing-wax -

Of cabbages - and kings -

And why the sea is boiling hot -

And whether pigs have wings.'" - "The Walrus and the Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll

My older sister, Carolyn, has always been a lover of poetry. When I was a kid, I always thought she was born to be a poet. She had thick, flowing, dark, curly hair, a personality with a dramatic edge, and I secretly thought she dressed a little bit like a hippie back then. She reminded me of the older sister in "Labyrinth," reciting poetry outside on the lawn with a ring of flowers in her hair, just for the heck of it.

When we were teenagers, we would walk home from the bus stop every day after school, and sometimes, she would be reciting a poem. It could have been nostalgic, pieces like "The Walrus and Carpenter" by Lewis Carroll or "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein. These were always fun to recite, and they reminded us of our childhood.

One long month it was "The Wasteland" by T.S. Eliot because she was learning it for a class. I don't know if I would know "The Wasteland" (and by know, I mean having it burned into my brain for all eternity) as well as I do today if it were not for her weeks of memorization and recitation.

And as I grew up, there were the poets I read simply because I loved books and language - Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou, e.e. cummings, Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, Walt Whitman. Like any book I picked up, I loved those that made me feel or see the world in a different light.

Poetry, of course, is a fickle medium. Some adore it, some hate it and some don't understand it. The other day, we were chatting, and one of our reporters said good poetry shouldn't rhyme (tell that to Dr. Seuss, one of the most famous poets in the world, whose work is known and loved in the form of his children's books.) But in the end, whatever our tastes, it's up to us to read and value that which speaks to us personally.

Though I would never be so brave as to put any poem I ever wrote out into the world (I'm sure mine were all tween delusions full of anger and angst), I am in awe of those whose words will stay with me because of the beauty of the prose and the rhythm of their words.

An English teacher I once had told me that your heart beats to great poetry. I'm sure he meant iambic pentameter, but that always stuck with me as a truth anyway.

Whether we are 5 or 50 years old, whether we prefer Dr. Seuss or Walt Whitman, great poetry resides somewhere in the back of our minds where we'll always remember it, and in our hearts where we'll never forget how it makes us feel.

"here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)"- "i carry your heart with me" by e.e. cummings



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