a new regard for poetry

I read this article tonight in the nytimes: Bringing a Daughter Back From the Brink with Poems. It is an incredible essay by Betsy Macwhinney about her subversive use of poetry to open her daughter to mental and physical healing. It is amazing. It is an incredible example of maternal love that is only matched by that of my own mother. (And I’m sure yours too, but really, mine is the best.)

I would encourage you to read the article and the poems to which she links. But…this says it all for me:

“At some point, I knew she had come out of a long dark tunnel. I also knew it wouldn’t be her last tunnel.”

I’ve never been one for poetry. My connection to Tennyson came less from his works and more from the way Megan Follows recited them as Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables. I am not a Shakespeare girl, much to my mothers chagrin. The words of Frost and Teasedale have been appealing but only when they have been set to music. e.e. cummings and Emily Dickinson have some appeal but have not typically captured my mind and soul in the way of prose authors.

But, I am the daughter of an exquisite poet and my respect for words is immense. So I’m not terribly surprised that poetry has turned a new light for me. Emerson, Rilke, now Neruda, are helping me to walk out of the tunnel of the dark and into the light. The gifts of words of those more wise than I provide a balm to my tumultuous spirit.

I leave you with this one for your heart. peace.

If Death is Kind

Perhaps if death is kind, and there can be returning,
We will come back to earth some fragrant night,
And take these lanes to find the sea, and bending
Breathe the same honeysuckle, low and white.

We will come down at night to these resounding beaches
And the long gentle thunder of the sea,
Here for a single hour in the wide starlight
We shall be happy, for the dead are free.

Sara Teasdale

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