April will be here soon, and I want to remind everyone that this is a very special month: National Poetry Month. In our hurry, scurry, rushed world we are lucky if we have time to read something, anything. Often it is Facebook or Twitter. Or maybe we even carve out time to read that hot new bestseller everyone is buzzing about. Often we don’t think about poetry which has a different way of looking at the world. Poetry has its own pace and rhythm that invites us to take time to ponder, and think about our feelings, our memories, our values.Growing up, poetry was a big part of my life. My dad loved poetry, and especially a book called “101 Famous Poems”. He gave me a copy for my 10th birthday, which I still own. We would read the poems in that book, and often I would memorize them. I still remember snatches of them some 50 years later.”Daffodils” by William Wordsworth was one of my favorites:
I wander’d lonely as a cloud
that floats on high o’er vale and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils:
That poem not only evokes for me the thought of a beautiful field of daffodils, but also the wonderful times I spent with my dad when we would go on “adventures” all around the Bay Area to local parks.
That little book also contained the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling:
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
Those are words that mean a lot to me, and I still have the poem displayed in my cubicle at work. It reminds me that I can be strong when I am facing adversity. Poems had a huge influence on me as I grew up, and as I mentioned, those poems I learned as a child, can transport me back to those simpler days of my life.
Are there poems that influenced you as a child or teen or perhaps now influence you? Think about them and why they were or are important to you. What feelings or images do they evoke?
And remember, there is a world of poetry at your local library. Stop by a branch this April and pick up a poetry book. Many poems are short, and don’t require the time commitment of a novel, yet contain thoughts, images and ideas that may challenge you, thrill you or widen your horizons. Read poetry for your own enjoyment or share it with someone. After all, poetry invites us to read it aloud. Discover or re-discover the joys of poetry!
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