April is National Poetry Month

Have a favorite poem or poet? Have an anthology dog-eared and beloved? Seems just about everyone can recite a few rhyming lines… I have a shelf in my library with a combination of poets, old and new. Certain moods draw me to take a book off the shelf and pursue some favorites… sometimes I just need the imagery to help me sort out what I’m feeling… whatever the reason, poetry has survived the ages because of its ability to transport us into illusions and metaphors far beyond the paradoxical, right into our very hearts.


April is a time to honor and remember the role poetry has in our lives… from childhood memories of the Queen in the Grimm’s tale of Snow White: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” to the folk tales your Gram told you,“Oh my goodness!” said Chicken Little. “The sky is falling! I must go and tell the king.”  These early forays into the world of story and words and imagination lead us quickly into the wicked and wonderful rhyming world of Edgar Allen Poe:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore– While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–Only this and nothing more.” 

From our adolescent fascination with Poe, we find we have fallen, irrevocably, in love with the wrong person, and who better to turn to than the greatest of English poets, William Shakespeare. His plays and sonnets, surviving the centuries, move us to do as Juliet does, when she asks the sweet yet complex questions:

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore at thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy name… What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet…

After the love games and Shakespeare, we stumble toward the confession poets, feeling the draw to understand even more of our inner natures. Who better than Sylvia Plath to teach us, in her searing images and allusions in “Faun”?

Haunched like a faun, he hooed
From grove of moon-glint and fen-frost
Until all owls in the twigged forest
Flapped black to look and brood
On the call this man made…

Ah! Poetry is there when you need it!

During April, National Poetry Month, celebrate National Poem In Your Pocket Day this Thursday, April 26! The idea is simple: select a poem you love and carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends, even strangers! (If you miss this date, share a poem any day!)  You can also share your poem on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

I will close with a favorite poem by the brilliant W. H. Auden. This poem speaks so eloquently of loss. Perhaps, amidst all the sorrow this poem evokes, it reminds us to love our loves every moment…

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

8 thoughts on “April is National Poetry Month

  1. “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy perfect symmetry?” Wm Blake (…one of my personal faves.)
    Thanks for reminding us of how much poetry is intwined in our lives and of how much we love it! This post is beautifully done.


  2. Here’s a poem I’ve loved since highschool…

    by: William Ernest Henley

    Out of the night that covers me
    Black as the pit from pole to pole.
    I thank whatever gods may be
    for my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeoning of chance
    my head is bloody but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
    Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
    Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
    How charged with punishments the scroll.
    I am the master of my fate:
    I am the captain of my soul.

    ***I still love it!***



    by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

    WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
    And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
    And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
    Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

    How many loved your moments of glad grace,
    And loved your beauty with love false or true,
    But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

    And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
    And paced upon the mountains overhead
    And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


  4. I think that I shall never see
    A poem as lovely as a tree……
    Poem by Kilmer….but he obviously never met you ,Ninecentgirl……..
    Poetry surrounds us…..What else is it,when you awaken every morning and there is light,and the sun or the rain,and trees and flowers and gentle breezes and the ocean contained and the rivers flowing and …..we could go on…….thank you God for creating ALL THIS EARTH and US……..woopee!!!!


  5. My candle burns at both ends;
    It will not last the night;
    But ah my foes;and oh my friends-
    It will not last the night.
    Edna St. Vincent Millay has a lot to say that many of us can agree with.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s