A strange thing is happening to me. I am falling in love with poetry. Roger Housden's series of poetry books called Ten Poems... have been the catalyst for this new found love. In Ten Poems to Set You Free Housden explains the difference between poetry and prose:
"Unlike prose, poetry does not explain things. It conveys the feeling of what happens. It articulates our deepest wonderings and aspirations, it shows us the world and ourselves in ways we might never have noticed before; it can name the questions that we wrestle with. Sometimes, it can prompt you to live your own answers in response."I have found this to be true. The poem selections in this book, and his other books, speak to me about things I wrestle with and wonder about. They even have caused me to notice things in my environment and about my relationships. I do want to live inside the answers these poems provide. Housden explains it this way:
"Good poetry emerges from the wellsprings of the human spirit, and if we are in the right place in ourselves to hear it, it can call forth our own inarticulate knowings, and offer a mirror into the core and the truth of our own life. It can show us the spark, the fire at our center, which, in the end, is the only thing in us likely to endure, the one thing worthy of our true name."Housden refers to poetry as the "fruit of the deep mind" and reminds us that it can help illuminate our way. In Mary Oliver's poem in this book she says:
And who will care, who will chide you if you wander awayOliver also asks in the same poem:
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?-1
For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters, caution and prudence?-1I've been listening to the shouters for years. So many times I think that my life has become dull, a tedious condition to be endured. Poetry has awakened in me the urge to live my life and to live it to the fullest. Rumi admonishes us to live our own stories, to make our own myths.
But don't be satisfied with stories, how thingsIn the C.P.Cavafy poem, "The God Abandons Anthony", Housden explains how the author "urges us along with his protagonist, Mark Anthony, to embrace the losses in our life along with everything else. For they, too, are a part of who we are; they, too, play their part in the process of soul-making."
have gone with others. Unfold
Your own myth, without complicated explanation,...-2
---don't mourn them uselessly.Don't we all need this reminder to embrace both the good and the bad in our lives and then rejoice in what was and to lean forward toward the what will be? I know I do. I want to run and hide from my defeats, not face them. But I can do so now, being graced with courage.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.-3
David Whythe in his poem "Self-Portrait" asks us to look at our authentic selves. His questions here both challenge and make me uncomfortable:
...I want to knowThese are very compelling questions. Am I ready to fall toward the center of my longing? All the poetry in this slim volume challenges me to do so. Shall I begin? Rumi encourages me to do so, yet reminds me that the road will be full of bumps and I might even feel weighed down but...
if you are prepared to live in the world
with it's harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
the center of your longing...-4
...Your legs will get heavyI am preparing my soul for flight!
and tired. Then comes the moment
of feeling the wings you've grown,
-1 "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?" by Mary Oliver
-2 "Unfold Your Own Myth (Excerpt) by Rumi
-3 "The God Abandons Anthony" by C.P. Cavafy
-4 "Self-Portrait" by David Whythe.