For the LOVE of Poetry!

It is said – here, now – that one of the great markers of a spiritual kinship  is a love  for the same poetry. For if two souls are equally moved by the same pulsating constellation of metaphor and meaning, they are not only bound by a common language and a shared sensibility but also exist in the same dimension of truth and possibility. Poetry, after all, is the ultimate meeting place.

I got my weekly Brain Pickings newsletter in my inbox today and that lovely quote donned the top of the article. It got me thinking about all the great poetry I’ve read over the years. As I continue reading poetry, my creativity and my love for fellow writers swells. In the spirit of favourite poems – I’d like to share mine. What’s your favourite poem?

Memoriam

In lawnchairs under stars. On the dock
at midnight, anchored by winter clothes,
we lean back to read the sky. Your face white
in the womb light, the lake’s electric skin.

Driving home from Lewiston, full and blue, the moon
over one shoulder of highway. There,
or in your kitchen at midnight, sitting anywhere
in the seeping dark, we bury them again and
again under the same luminous thumbprint.

The dead leave us starving with mouths full of love.

Their stones are salt and mark where we look back.
Your mother’s hand at the end of an empty sleeve,
scratching at your palm, drawing blood.
Your aunt in a Jewish graveyard in Poland,
her face a permanent fist of pain.
Your first friend, Saul, who died faster than
you could say forgive me.
When I was nine and crying from a dream
you said words that hid my fear.
Above us the family slept on,
mouths open, hands scrolled.
Twenty years later your tears burn the back of my throat.
Memory has a hand in the grave up to the wrist.
Earth crumbles from your fist under the sky’s black sieve.
We are orphaned, one by one.

On the beach at Superior, you found me
where I’d been for hours, cut by the lake’s sharp rim.
You stopped a dozen feet from me.
What passed in that quiet said:
I have nothing to give you.

At dusk, birch forest is a shore of bones.
I’ve pulled stones from the earth’s black pockets,
felt the weight of their weariness – worn,
exhausted from their sleep in the earth.
I’ve written on my skin with their black sweat.

The lake’s slight movement is stilled by fading light.
Soon the stars’ tiny mouths, the moon’s blue mouth.

I have nothing to give you, nothing to carry,
some words to make me less afraid, to say
you gave me this.
Memory insists with its sea voice,
muttering from its bone cave.
Memory wraps us
like the shell wraps the sea.
Nothing to carry,
some stones to fill our pockets,
to give weight to what we have.

– Anne Michaels


Anne Michaels is the author that originally helped me to fall in love with language. Upon reading her first novel – Fugitive Pieces, I knew that I was stuck (in a good way!) with writing.

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2 thoughts on “For the LOVE of Poetry!

  1. Hey!!! You can’t ask that kind of question at this time of the morning and then leave me all alone. You just made my head explode. I’ve never really considered whether I have a favourite poem and as I quickly went through a few titles in my head I got confused whilst at the same time having to mentally apologise to lots of worthy poems who weren’t going to make the final 10 ready for the final cut down to 1.
    Firstly though I must say thank you for sharing the Anne Michaels poem it is rather excellent and I was drawn into it immediately. I particularly like the way that she has used enjambment, especially in the first stanza. I can see what you mean when you say that she originally helped you to fall in love with language, she uses it very well.
    I do love ‘Howl’ by Allen Ginsberg, but you would never forgive me if I were to copy and paste it here because it is one hell of a long poem. Blake, Hughes, Wordsworth, Plath, Colleridge and Goethe I love you all and I’m sorry for not choosing you.
    I would probably prefer to put a Blake poem here but I’m going to go with Walt Whitman ‘Miracles’ and it is not necessarily my favourite poem as regards poetic content but it is probably my favourite poem that I like to share with people because of what it says.

    MIRACLES
    Why, who makes much of a miracle?
    As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
    Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
    Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
    Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
    Or stand under trees in the woods,
    Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night with any
    one I love,
    Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
    Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
    Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon,
    Or animals feeding in the fields,
    Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
    Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and
    bright,
    Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
    These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
    The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
    To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
    Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
    Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
    Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.
    To me the sea is a continual miracle,
    The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships
    with men in them,
    What stranger miracles are there?

    Walt Whitman

    To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.

    William Blake

    oopss sorry, I don’t how that William Blake piece managed to get there.

    Like

    1. haha I’m sorry! I’m just glad someone replied! I was eager to know what some other people’s favourite poems were.
      Thanks for following! Yes – Anne michaels is my main love as far as the literature world is concerned. If you’re looking for an exquisite book to read grab a copy of fugitive pieces – your heart will melt :)))

      Like

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