Thursday, April 18, 2013
A-Z blogging challenge:
P is for Poetry
If you've followed this blog for any period of time, you know that I love poems, poetry, poets. There is so much within poetry--the cadence of the lines, word choices, images that are conjured--that contrive to inspire me.
I was thinking recently of the very first poets I discovered, or whom discovered me: Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, and the poem below, by John Greenleaf Whittier. I have very fond memories of the school year (8th grade English?) where I memorized this poem and made a little illustrated booklet of it, cutting corresponding pictures out of Ideals magazines.
Still sits the school-house by the road,
A ragged beggar sleeping;
Around it still the sumachs grow,
And blackberry-vines are creeping.
Within, the master’s desk is seen,
Deep scarred by raps official;
The warping floor, the battered seats,
The jack-knife’s carved initial;
The charcoal frescos on its wall;
Its door’s worn sill, betraying
The feet that, creeping slow to school,
Went storming out to playing!
Long years ago a winter sun
Shone over it at setting;
Lit up its western window-panes,
And low eaves’ icy fretting.
It touched the tangled golden curls,
And brown eyes full of grieving,
Of one who still her steps delayed
When all the school were leaving.
For near her stood the little boy
Her childish favor singled:
His cap pulled low upon a face
Where pride and shame were mingled.
Pushing with restless feet the snow
To right and left, he lingered;—
As restlessly her tiny hands
The blue-checked apron fingered.
He saw her lift her eyes; he felt
The soft hand’s light caressing,
And heard the tremble of her voice,
As if a fault confessing.
“I’m sorry that I spelt the word:
I hate to go above you,
Because,”—the brown eyes lower fell,—
“Because, you see, I love you!”
Still memory to a gray-haired man
That sweet child-face is showing.
Dear girl! the grasses on her grave
Have forty years been growing!
He lives to learn, in life’s hard school,
How few who pass above him
Lament their triumph and his loss,
Like her,—because they love him.
Such a sweet poem, and quite easy to memorize--at least that's how I remember it!
I went on to fall in love with many other poets over the years, from Margaret Atwood, Galway Kinnell, Sharon Olds, Denise Levertov, Mary Oliver, William Stafford, Li-Young Lee...
It's been a long time since I memorized a poem--probably college, when it was required in a poetry class--but remembering this poem from my childhood makes me want to take on that challenge again... maybe I'll start small--a haiku? Ha.
Who are your favorite poets? Have you ever memorized a poem, and if so, which one(s)?
What's this A-Z business about? Check out my kick-off post. And stay tuned for the random joy and nonsense I concoct during the month of April!