Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cheating (a bit)

I just added this comment to a friend's blog post about writing poetry. I am re-posting it here because I am too busy/tired to write real posts! Or just because it is a lovely, stop-you-in-your-tracks kind of poem.

Oh, but don't forget that there's room for humour in poetry! It doesn't all have to be aching beauty or angst, right? I sometimes find that poetry can be hard to get into because of that snob-factor. Not that I have not been stopped in my tracks by aching beauty (or angst) when done right. But playful is so much more approachable. Two words: Shel Silverstein. 
Well, for inspiration, here is one of the ones that stopped me in my tracks (I hope you haven't heard it a zillion times... I think it's one of the few poems out there that gets around. Still. Aching beauty.)

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work, 1986


  1. That's a beautiful poem. I find that the poems (and stories) that affect me the most deeply are the ones with a tinge of humour amidst the rest of the emotion.

    Andrea xx

  2. Hi Andrea, thanks for stopping by!

    Yes, I think some humour in any form of writing makes it more approachable, more human. I know that it depends - humour isn't always appropriate - but when used right it sure bridges the spaces between people.