I don't know about you, but I tend to forget about poetry.
Instead, I reach for novels, creative self-helps, the newspaper, or any cereal box that gets in my line of sight - things I can read while simultaneously stirring soup or walking on a treadmill.
The truth is that in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I don't want to slow down as much as a poem asks me to.
But every once in a while, a poem ambushes me anyway. Knocks the wind out of my multi-tasking sails and brings me back to earth, where I look around with fresh eyes and remember what reverence feels like. What a little bit of perfect language can do.
Perhaps because poems offer us such bite-sized opportunities to pause, to savor ideas and images, to make metaphoric connections and deeper meanings and quickly engage our faculties of empathy, they should be invited to our daily tables like respected guests -- wise elders with a few choice words to impart.
And let us not forget the great poems of previous centuries! While contempory poets speak to us of what is, older poets remind us what was and help us recognize the lasting truths.
Here, then, are three simple suggestions for adding a dose of poetic medicine to your life:
1) Visit the Poetry Foundation's website (or download their excellent app) at http://www.poetryfoundation.org where you can browse by poet, title, or subject, and sign up to receive a daily poem via email.
2) Create a journal or binder in which you squirrel away any bits of writing that support, delight, or otherwise speak to you. I have a beat-up black binder that houses many of the poems, song lyrics, and even Hallmark card-isms that I've liked since I was a teenager. It's eclectic, personal, and very precious to me now -- a growing scrapbook of language I've loved over a lifetime.
3) Ask a friend to exchange a poem with you on a regular basis. For example, you might decide that on Tuesdays, you and your friend will send each other a discovered poem via email or snail-mail. (I did this with an across-the-miles friend during my college years and it was a delightful way to expand my literary scope while receiving weekly surprises in my mailbox.)
I'll get you started below with one of my all-time favorite poems by Robert Frost, "The Tuft of Flowers".
This year, may poetry gift you with moments of reverence, and connect you with "spirits kindred to your own; so that henceforth you work no more alone!"
The Tuft of Flowers
By Robert Frost
I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.
The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.