Sunday, April 3, 2016

Because Poetry and Pablo Neruda.

If you’ve ever been tempted to write a poem about your favorite landscape, the seashore or the rites of Spring, now’s the time to do it. April is National Poetry Month, so grab a pen and paper, find your favorite outdoor perch and start scribbling.
If you need inspiration, review the works of these five American poets who wrote about nature and used the natural world to help clarify daily life while exploring some of the more complicated aspects of society.

 Emily DickinsonEmily Dickinson lived in Amherst, Massachusetts in the late 19th century. Famously introverted and considered an eccentric by her neighbors, she spent much of her time in her bedroom, where she wrote nearly 1,800 poems during her lifetime. Though she often touched on themes of death and immortality, she also had a keen understanding of nature, which she may have observed from her bedroom window.

One of her most charming poems is called “A Bird Came Down the Walk”:

“A bird came down the walk:
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw”

Here’s the complete poem.

She also wrote “A Light Exists in Spring.” Here’s the opening stanza:

“A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period -
When March is scarcely here…”

Here is the complete poem.

Robert Frost – This famous American poet won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry. He took his inspiration from early 1900s rural life in New England. Though set in nature, his poems often focused on important social and philosophical issues. You’ll probably know him best for “The Road Not Taken,” but don’t overlook “Mending Wall,” from whence comes the famous line, “Good fences make good neighbors.” It starts…
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast…
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows…”

Read the complete poem here.

Gary SnyderGary Snyder is an essayist, lecturer, environmental activist and yes, poet. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, he’s been described as the “poet laureate of Deep Ecology” as well as a writer associated with San Francisco’s Beat Generation. He’s a master at using natural imagery to convey universal truths. You’ll find references to mountains, volcanoes, the Arctic, flora and fauna in his stanzas, and in the books for which he became well known, such as “Turtle Island.

Enjoy “Pine Tree Tops:”

“In the blue night
frost haze, the sky glows
with the moon
pine tree tops
bend snow-blue, fade
into sky, frost, starlight.
The creak of boots.
Rabbit tracks, deer tracks, 
What do we know.”

 Mary Oliver – A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, Mary Oliver was born in the Midwest in 1945. She began writing poetry and later moved to Massachusetts, which serves as her home base while she writes, teaches and leads workshops. Her poetry celebrates the natural world, beauty, silence, love and the spirit. She’s published many books, including “Wild Geese,” which contains a poem by the same name. Here’s an excerpt:

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves…”

You can listen to Mary Oliver read the entire poem here.

Ralph Waldo Emerson – Philosopher, Transcendentalist, essayist and poet: Ralph Waldo Emerson was another poet born in Massachusetts, though in 1803. His most famous essay was on “Self-Reliance.” He titled his first book Nature, which expressed his belief that everything in the world is a microcosm of the universe.

Here’s an excerpt from a beautiful, moving poem simply titled, “Nature.”

“Winters know
Easily to shed the snow,
And the untaught Spring is wise
In cowslips and anemones.
Nature, hating art and pains,
Baulks and baffles plotting brains;
Casualty and Surprise
Are the apples of her eyes;
But she dearly loves the poor,
And, by marvel of her own,
Strikes the loud pretender down.”
You can see a list of more Nature poems dating back to Virgil in 37 BCE and including the Japanese poet Basho, at Poets.org.
 
poet Pablo Neruda

Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines

 
 
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example,'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her voide. Her bright body. Her inifinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my sould is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.


 

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