#NationalPoetryDay Let’s Celebrate!

This is shaping up to be a lovely week full of my favourite things: World Ballet Day, World Teachers’ Day and now National Poetry Day here in the UK. Here are a few favourite fragments of poems to celebrate.

About dancing:

I cannot dance upon my Toes—
No Man instructed me—
But oftentimes, among my mind,
A Glee possesseth me,

That had I Ballet knowledge—
Would put itself abroad
In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe— (Emily Dickinson)

About teaching:

…such things are said to be
Good for you, and you will have to learn them
In order to become one of the grown-ups
Who sees invisible things neither steadily nor whole,
But keeps gravely the grand confusion of the world
Under his hat, which is where it belongs,
And teaches small children to do this in their turn. (Howard Nemerov)

Nevertheless, I am extremely grateful to those teachers who shaped me into what I am today (caveat: all mistakes my own, etc. etc.)

From LifeintheItalianHills.com
From LifeintheItalianHills.com

About poetry – well, I can’t stop thinking about this poem today, by Robert Bly:
Oh, on an early morning I think I shall live forever!
I am wrapped in my joyful flesh,
As the grass is wrapped in its clouds of green.

Rising from a bed, where I dreamt
Of long rides past castles and hot coals,
The sun lies happily on my knees;
I have suffered and survived the night,
Bathed in dark water, like any blade of grass.

The strong leaves of the box-elder tree,
Plunging in the wind, call us to disappear
Into the wilds of the universe,
Where we shall sit at the foot of a plant,
And live forever, like dust.

Finally, I leave you with this amazing line from Mahmoud Darwish:

You are reluctant to emerge from the metaphor in case you fall into the well of loneliness.

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Wisdom Verses

I have always been drawn to Buddhism, not just because of its philosophical content, but because of the poetry of its teachings.  I recently found a booklet of quotes I copied down fron the Dhammapada (one of the main texts of the Buddha’s teachings in Theravada Buddhism).  Back in my student days.  See if you don’t agree with me about the simplicity and power of  the language, almost haiku-like.

In this world,

hate never yet dispelled hate.

Only love dispels hate.

 

Mistaking the false for the true,

and the true for the false,

you overlook the heart

and fill yourself with desire.

 

Wakefulness is the way to life.  How wonderful it is to watch, how foolish to sleep!

 

Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own thoughts, unguarded.

 

Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles.

Better to live one day wondering

how all things arise and pass away.

Better to live one hour seeing

the one life beyond the way.

Better to live one moment

in the moment.

 

It is hard to live in the world.

And hard to live out of it.

It is hard to be one among many.

 

My Father

I was never Daddy’s girl –

I was his only seed.

He’d come so far: cow’s tail to ambassadorial sash,

always the sparkler, never the rein.

He taught me all I knew:

cheering Maclaren on TV, explaining the finer points of rugby,

testing me on African country names, world flags, capital cities,

he never once faltered, he had all the answers.

He dared me dream better, spurred me shoot higher.

We were explorers; I lived for those days

when the car’s nose would choose our final destination,

perhaps climbing up to the fortress where Richard lay prisoner,

my own Lionheart all roar and fun bluster, streaming ahead, always the one to catch.

 

No hiding of his light under bushel, repetition is his manna, boasting his flow.

Nicotine breath exploding in laughter, the world rejoiced in his fireworks,

the teasing, the wordplay, the invented words.

At times the scintillation broke my lesser spirit.

I stormed away, blinded, to be sought out and hugged,

brought back in the fold with boxing and play.

‘Of course I did not let you win that game!’ His reassuring fib.

Swirls of his humour, like chocolate, like warm custard,

would treacle forward to sturdy up the shore after the storm.

 

Spent in passion, united, against all odds so similar,

we’d sit in peaceful duality on the sofa and read.