Poems and Parking Meters

April 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

April just happens to be National Poetry Month and since I haven’t shared any poems since our first blog entry, I’ll try to post a few this month. Poets.org suggests some fun ways to celebrate the month, like taking a poem out to lunch, mailing one to a friend, and keeping one in your pocket or an unexpected place (laundromat, anyone? Parking meter?).

Doesn't it look so lonely without a poem? (Photography by Jeff Seltzer)

I hate expired meters! BUT if there was a friendly poem attached, who could feel bad?

Go a little crazy with your celebration. After all, the 17th century poet John Dryden did say, “Great wits are sure to madness near allied, And thin partitions do their bounds divide.” So, you know, it’s precedented.

(This is actually last year's poster, but I liked it better.)

To kick off the month and help you don your poet-glasses, here’s a poem by Edward Hirsch. Granted, the imagery is all wrong for a growing-ever-sunnier April, but I think Hirsch captures well the spirit of the poet and the process of writing. We may celebrate poetry in the sun, but often the initiation of a poem begins in darker moments. Robert Frost described this process, saying, “A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a homesickness or a love-sickness. It is a reaching out toward expression, an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the word.”

I’m Going to Start Living Like a Mystic
By Edward Hirsch

Today I am pulling on a green wool sweater
and walking across the park in a dusky snowfall.

The trees stand like twenty-seven prophets in a field,
each a station in a pilgrimage — silent, pondering.

Blue flakes of light falling across their bodies
are the ciphers of a secret, an occultation.

I will examine their leaves as pages in a text
and consider the bookish pigeons, students of winter.

I will kneel on the track of a vanquished squirrel
and stare into a blank pond for the figure of Sophia.

I shall begin scouring the sky for signs
as if my whole future were constellated upon it.

I will walk home alone with the deep alone,
a disciple of shadows, in praise of the mysteries.

What’s a favorite poem of yours? Share it in a comment or post a link below.

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