April is Poetry Month, a time to read and/or write a few. Perhaps you can recall poems you have indiscriminately encountered over your lifetime, not because you had to memorize or study them, but just because you stumbled upon them and fell in love. As a girl I poured through the Childcraft Encyclopedia's volume on poetry where I discovered Longfellow, Wordsworth ... and "The Highwayman."
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh.
And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.
Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord’s daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.
Oh, my, my... and what is to come...no spoiler alerts from me! Thank you, Alfred Noyes! You hooked a kid on poetry.
I'm doing my part for Poetry Month by emceeing the Sandwich Arts Alliance Poetry Fest this Sunday, 3-5:00, April 9, 2017 at the Sandwich Town Hall. Join us and savor poetry loved and read by Randy Hunt, Carol McManus, Dr. Pam Gould, Jeanne Prendergast, Mark Snyder, Jay Pateakos, Vicky Titcomb, Steven Withrow, June Bowser-Barrett, and a group of super-talented STEM and SHS poets headed by Debbie Morris. (A mystery poet is due to make an appearance, very hush, hush..)
I'll be reading two poems I wrote about my dear and beloved sons, one when the youngest was just four and we were out together for a walk in the woods. His absolute absorption in a frozen puddle left me pondering the last line which is:
"Why is Nature able to effortlessly produce what most of us cannot:
An unbored child."
The other was written several years ago when the oldest came to visit. As is often the way with adult children, my home's inadequacies were universally identified, from attic to cellar, from porch to yard. So I wrote a mocking poem that still makes me laugh out loud. It begins:
"I loathe my mother's old house so,
though I grew up there long ago,
played, threw balls, and feasted long
on what she cooked, while we did wrong...
These two poems share my love and laughter , and isn't all poetry that effort to express something larger and beyond the ordinary? Mary Oliver writes about the miracle of the ordinary. With her ability to glorify anything with words, she transforms commonplace sights into something amazing, observed truly for the first time. To understand her poetry, I think you have to sit beside her on the log of her choosing and simply watch and contemplate.
I've written several dozen poems and as many songs, but refuse any title of Poet. No, that has been well-earned by the likes of my supremely talented friend Jacqueline Loring who won an international Irish poetry contest with her collection "The History of Bearing Children," and her friend, acclaimed Irish poet Geraldine Mills who wrote "The Weight of Feathers" and other gorgeous poems that both sooth and ruffle your mind.
Bless you, poets, everywhere.