In her book "Saved by A Poem", author Kim Rosen writes that poetry is the language of our soul. By using poems that you love, you can find deeper truths about your own life. We all turn to teachers, gurus, friends, mentors, meditation etc. when we are seeking advice for our life. Rosen says, "turn to poems that you love". And, furthermore, she says -- learn a poem by heart -- don't memorize it, learn it BY HEART -- Let it into your heart. A poem needs the body and breath to become all it can be. Find a poem you love, copy it into your journal or type it up on a piece er of paper -- and read it every day. Don't try to memorize it -- just read it deeply. Investigate the poem -- See what "medicine" it holds for you. What is it calling forth IN YOU? Why do you suppose you were attracted to this poem? Read it outloud. What word or image stands out for you? Write that down. Walk with this poem for a week. Read this poem to others -- I have a friend who carries a little bundle of favorite poems in her purse and "gives" them to people routinely as she goes about her day. By giving -- I mean, she reads the poem to others. An ambassador of poetry!
After living with the poem for a week, see if you haven't already begun to take it into your bones. See if you don't already know the first line or two. Learning a poem is more like a dance than a conquest. Little by little, see if you can learn your poem by heart. Say it to yourself when you have insomnia, say it silently while you are waiting in line at the post office, say it when you are stopped at a red light. Again, Kim Rosen says "the simple and powerful act of creating a deep relationship with a poem you love can change your life."
Here is the poem I plan to learn this week; (and, by the way, a search for a poem to learn is also fun!!). You can check the poetry section of this website to see other poems to consider.
What the day Gives - Jeanne Lohmann
Suddenly, sun. Over my shoulder
in the middle of gray November
what I hoped to do comes back,
Across the street the fiery trees
hold onto their leaves,
red and gold in the final months
of this unfinished year, they
offer blazing riddles.
In the frozen fields of my life
there are no shortcuts to spring,
but stories of great birds in migration
carrying small ones on their back,
predators flying next to warblers
they would, in a different season, eat.
Stunned by the astonishing mix in this uneasy world
that plunges in a single day from despair
to hope and back again, I commend my life
to Ruskin’s difficult duty of delight,
and to that most beautiful form of courage,
to be happy.