“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?
What Emily Dickinson describes here is her body responding to the sheer joy of beautiful, awe-inspiring poetry, the insightful kind that chills the body and nearly stuns the spirit. Some poems I read fill me with a trembling cold like the one Emily Dickinson describes, while others are more warming, gently clever, and amusing.
It’s been awhile since I have really read or written much poetry. Years ago, I always seemed to be composing some verse, seeking new poets, or savoring the lines of some old favorite. Since April is National Poetry Month, I’ve begun collecting other people’s poems in a brand new journal, both form and free-verse. I’m writing their poems by hand, which allows me to linger over certain words and phrases a little longer, to feel like I am in tune with them. Along with copying and reading aloud these poems, I am writing my own. It feels like slowly wading out into refreshing, chilly waters, this return to poetry.
I’d like to share three from the journal. The first is a clever spring haiku written by the haiku master, Issa:
and the village floods
The second is an excerpt from Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope is The Thing with Feathers”
Hope is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—
Dickinson’s poem is musical, so that the form hints at its meaning and sounds just like what she imagines hope to be. This first stanza contains such an innocent quality through its “bird” imagery, and yet she never uses the common word; she describes it instead.
The third is a recent (contemporary) haiku of mine:
I find the way home
May April bring you flowers of many colors and plenty of poems! 🙂