“In the end we go to poetry…so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.” ~Christian Wiman
How are you holding up? What is bringing you hope in these chaotic times?
Poetry is one thing I rely on for a handhold. Some poems sink in so deeply I feel I’m walking with the poets. Their words accompany me, opening me to see more and feel more. Sometimes comprehend more too. When the world’s anger and despair loom over me, poetry offers solace.
Lately I’ve turned to old favorites, each one a nature-drenched poem. Sharing a few in hopes they might help hold you up too.
In “Life On Earth,” Dorianne Laux reminds us how outlandish it is to be here at all. “The odds are we never should have been born.”
Diane Ackerman’s “School Prayer,” offers a solemn pledge of a poem worthy of chanting each morning upon waking. “I swear I will not dishonor/my soul with hatred,/ but offer myself humbly…”
Another chant-worthy poem is “A Charm Against The Language Of Politics” by Veronica Patterson, who reminds us to repeat the names of things. “Dig deep, pronounce clearly, pull the words/ in over your head.”
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer describes her practice of carrying the world’s beauty with her in “Why I Smile At Strangers,” writing, “I carry these things in my heart,/ more certain than ever that one way/ to counteract evil is to ceaselessly honor what’s good…”
Poetry can offer us hope, but the poems that come alive for me aren’t a spoonful of sugar. They offer lasting nourishment.
We cannot bring about a more regenerative and compassionate future using the same language that got us here– the kind churned out by advertisers, pundits, and politicians. Poetry calls us to make big world-restoring decisions by listening to voices wilder and wiser than our own. What does sea ice say? How about honeybees, gray whales, storm clouds, bonobos, leatherback turtles? What do our ancestors, leading all the way back to the First Mother, have to tell us? What do the smallest children want us to know? The oldest people? Poetry doesn’t offer answers, it simply helps to tune our capacity to see, hear, and be. That’s a start.