Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Poem In You

A very popular poem that I want to share. Short, beautiful and emotional--the best kinds. My Irish Lit professor's favorite, and it's really moved me.
"When You Are Old" by W.B. Yeats
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

There is something uncomplicated about this poem that grabs me. Besides it's obvious brilliance--that being a saddness and thoughtfulness that seeps from each line--I am drawn in by the fact that it's not so convoluted and "symbolic" that it can't be understood. Poetry is meant to express something, yes, and maybe that thing can only be expressed through complex metaphors and guared allusions... But if it can't touch someone else... If its lines and words and ideas cannot connect, then what is it? What's its purpose? How can it be anything but a beautiful collection of words?

To me, there are two kinds of poems: those that
touch you with their words, and those that simply sound beautiful. The best ones accomplish both.

I wish I knew more about poetry. I wish I had more poems memorized. I wish I felt more confident in writing them. There are aspects of me that would love that outlet. Metaphors are not my strong suit. Neither is subtlety in writing or ideas. My vocabulary should be stronger, at this point in my life, and in reading poems and literature, this is becoming more clear; a focusing of my voice, a pooling of my strengths. There is nothing wrong with simplicity. Or with writing that is easy to understand. That's me. Why try to be something else?

That being said, I'll leave you with the simplest poem I know. It's
my favorite.
"The Sun Never Says" by Hafiz
Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth

"You owe me."

Look what happens
with a love like that

It lights the whole sky.

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