Poetry, these days especially, can offersolace, peace, and a meditation that takes us away from the concerns andchallenges of life.
Bliss Morehead, founder and curator of theShelter Island Poetry Project, now in its 12th year, shared some suggestions onpoems and sources to browse. Working closely with Jocelyn Ozolins, thereference librarian (the Shelter Island Library is currently closed), Ms.Morehead had been developing plans for a poetry reading at the library in April which is National Poetry Month. Since the reading is now cancelled, they haveshared some of their favorite sites for poems, in hopes they will be helpful toour readers. There are also many selections available at the National Poetry Monthsite.
I am currently re-reading The Wild Braid,by Stanley Kunitz, Ms. Morehead said. If you dont love Kunitz now, you willafter your wanderings.
She described other Kunitz poems, includingThe Testing Tree, Touch Me and Halleys Comet as poetic bouquetsinspired by the poets work in his Provincetown garden.
Ms. Ozolins suggested that readers visit a poetrywebsite, brainpickings.org, created by Maria Popova, a Bulgarian-born writernow living in Brooklyn. The site is currently featuring masterpieces ofperspective, from poets including Jane Hirshfield, Marie Howe, Mary Oliver,Barbara Ras and others.
One of them, Mary Oliver, evokes a place likeShelter Island:
When I am Among the Trees
By Mary Oliver
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, anddaily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, Stay awhile.
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, Its simple, they say,
and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to befilled
with light, and to shine.
Ms. Morehead said there is a full selectionof shelter poems to be found at the poets.org website.
Found there, this next poem speaks to the place we are all struggling to find within ourselves in trying times:
Hope is the Thing With Feathers
By Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
Ive heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
This famous poem celebrates a beloved island, where the writer finds peace:
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
By William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay andwattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive forthe honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peacecomes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning towhere the cricket sings;
There midnights all a glimmer, and noon apurple glow,
And evening full of the linnets wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night andday
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds bythe shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on thepavements grey,
I hear it in the deep hearts core.
And finally, a couple of lines from W.H. Auden, for those who are working from home or in self-quarantine:
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
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