"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Obsessed with Poetry Thanks to Roger Housden

I just finished my third poetry book in as many days and it is all thanks to Roger Housden who has written and compiled several small poetry books on various themes.  The first of his that I read was Ten Poems to Change Your Life.

Now I know what you are thinking, because if I was reading this review I'd be thinking it, too... "Don't bother telling me about a poetry book. I like what I like and when it comes to poetry, I like it in small doses." Well, that is what I thought until I read this book, and the two that I gobbled up right after it. Roger Housden has unlocked the poetry code for me. He selected ten poems, which he identifies as life changing poems and spends a few pages explaining each one. I realized as I read his descriptions that I never really knew how to read poetry before, so the only poems I ever really liked were the ones that I could figure out without too much fuss. For example, if I ran into a word I didn't understand I seldom, if ever, even looked it up. When reading prose, of course, we look for contextual meaning but often that isn't possible in poems. In addition, Housden asks the reader to "feel" the poem and check for the larger themes of soul-searching and death.

Of the ten poems he selected for this volume at least five of them profoundly touched me. I don't think I'm prepared to say that they have changed my life but maybe they have, just a bit. One of the poems, "Last Gods" by Kinnell, my husband and I read to each other repeatedly during our little vacation to Victoria. So that is new. We've never been a poetry-reading couple before, so perhaps I am changed. Here is the list of the ten life-changing poems and my favorite line from each:

"The Journey" by Mary Oliver
-One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice---
"Last Night as I was Sleeping" by Antonio Machado
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.
"Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman
I believe in you my soul...
"Zero Circle" by Rumi
Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
to gather us up.
"The Time Before Death" by Kabir
Jump into experience while you are alive!
"Ode to My Socks" by Pablo Neruda
No one line catches my eye but the idea that we must open our eyes to all around us and even a pair of socks can become "luminous."

"Last Gods" by Galway Kinnell
...Now in the lake two faces float, looking up
at a great maternal pine whose branches
open out in all directions
explaining everything.
"For the Anniversary of My Death" by WS Merwin
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
"Love after Love" by Derek Walcott
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
"The Dark Night" by St. John of the Cross
My worldliness was gone, forgotten
Among the white lilies.
I appreciate these poems and what they had to offer to my soul and the explanations that Roger Housden provided. I hope that you, too, can find a poem or two this April, during National Poetry Month, that speaks to you. Who knows, maybe it will even change your life.

1 comment:

  1. I am a new disciple. I talked about this book so much to my colleagues that one of the English teachers checked out this book! Score one for Poetry!


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