Poetry / The English Teacher / The Social Network

Poetry — It Really Is for Everyone

April 30. The last day of ‘National Poetry Month.’ Are faithful readers sighing their sighs in relief? Are sometimes readers sighing their sighs in disappointment?

As a mostly faithful poetry reader, and an only sometimes faithful blogger, I’m sad to see the month end. I’ve read more poetry this month than I’ve read in quite some time. And I’ve never maintained such devotion to the ‘post a day’ that I promised myself (and readers!) thirty days ago. Progress all ’round…

But commonchapters isn’t merely about poetry. Blessedly, poetry isn’t merely about clever words, artfully filling the white space of a page. No. Poetry, as any reader soon discovers, alters our perceptions, opens our eyes that we might see, teaches us, delights us, breaks our hearts. Poetry helps us know what we think and why we think it. It stirs us up — makes us laugh, makes us cry, reminds us to play with our children and ‘teach them the way they should go.’ It slows us down — shows us the beauty of the universe, the warmth of a mother’s hand, the ravages of war. Poetry is life, lived out.

And that’s what commonchapters is too. Sometimes with a funny story, sometimes with a call to arms, sometimes with a touch of grace. And sometimes, with poetry — because poetry is good for us.

Matthew Arnold (I had no remembrance of how much I like this guy!) wrote in 1869,

Below the Surface-Stream, Shallow and Light

Below the surface-stream, shallow and light,

Of what we say we feel – below the stream,

As light, of what we think we feel – there flows,

With noiseless current strong, obscure and deep,

The central stream of what we feel indeed.


Hmmmmm. Got you thinking, didn’t it?

Poetry. Working its magic. On everyone who’ll stop long enough to read it.


Hey — thanks for sharing National Poetry Month with me. I, for one, have learned much. Hope you have too!!

And here’s one extra, because, well — I just can’t help it — it’s so GOOD!

From Whitman’s Song of Myself

You are also asking me questions and I hear you,
I answer that I cannot answer, you must find out for yourself.

    Sit a while dear son,
Here are biscuits to eat and here is milk to drink,
But as soon as you sleep and renew yourself in sweet clothes I kiss you with
a good-by kiss and open the gate for your egress hence.

    Long enough have you dream’d contemptible dreams,
Now I wash the gum from your eyes,
You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment of
your life.

    Long have you timidly waded holding a plank by the shore,
Now I will you to be a bold swimmer,
To jump off in the midst of the sea, rise again, nod to me, shout, and laughingly
dash with your hair.

Some things, like the fact that poetry really is for everyone, we must learn for ourselves…





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