Thursday, May 05, 2011

What Poems Do You Love?

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things

- from "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye

For the past few days, I've been reading Kim Rosen's book, Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words, in preparation to interview her for the Arts and Healing Podcast.

In Saved by a Poem, Rosen talks about the healing power of reading, speaking, and memorizing poems. You can read a short piece on about how Naomi Shihab Nye's poem, "Kindness," carried Rosen through losing all of her savings in 2008.

I'm loving the book, and have been inspired to dig out favorite poems from my twenties by Alice Walker, Sharon Olds, Adrienne Rich, and James Merrill.  Now, I'm on the hunt for new poems to love in my forties.

What poems do you love?  What poets have accompanied you through difficult times? Have you ever been, "saved by a poem?"

For a little inspiration, here's the awesome Maya Angelou reciting "Still I Rise."

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  1. Mary Oliver, for sure:
    The Journey

    One day you finally knew
    what you had to do, and began,
    though the voices around you
    kept shouting
    their bad advice--
    though the whole house
    began to tremble
    and you felt the old tug
    at your ankles.
    "Mend my life!"
    each voice cried.
    But you didn't stop.
    You knew what you had to do,
    though the wind pried
    with its stiff fingers
    at the very foundations,
    though their melancholy
    was terrible.
    It was already late
    enough, and a wild night,
    and the road full of fallen
    branches and stones.
    But little by little,
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn
    through the sheets of clouds,
    and there was a new voice
    which you slowly
    recognized as your own,
    that kept you company
    as you strode deeper and deeper
    into the world,
    determined to do
    the only thing you could do--
    determined to save
    the only life you could save.

    I've come back to this poem over and over since i first read it in Oprah's "what I know for sure" page in summer 2001. It always means something new.

  2. Beautiful. I'd never read it before. Thank you so much for sharing it, Halle (:

  3. Love this poem...Not sure if it was written by the Russian, Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev and translated by Vladimir Nabokov, or written by Nabokov.


    Love at the closing of our days
    is apprehensive and very tender.
    Glow brighter, brighter, farewell rays
    of one last love in its evening splendor.

    Blue shade takes half the world away:
    through western clouds alone some light is slanted.
    O tarry, O tarry, declining day,
    enchantment, let me stay enchanted.

    The blood runs thinner, yet the heart
    remains as ever deep and tender.
    O last belated love, thou art
    a blend of joy and hopeless surrender.

    - Vladimir Nabokov ?

  4. Thanks for sharing your favorite poem, Larry!

  5. Too many to mention...
    Though all Rumi, The Gift, A book by Hafiz and a compilation book of many mystics called: Love Poems to God are treasure troves of fave poems. XXXXXXXXXXXXX
    "our friendhsip is made of being awake", Rumi

  6. Thanks for sharing your faves, Gabriela! I'd never heard of Hafiz till I read Saved by a Poem. She talks about him too.


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