At what age did you meet poetry? My earliest recollection of meeting a close cousin of poetry was when I was four. My mother used to sing lullabies to put me to sleep. My initiation into the world of poetry happened in middle school. And since then, there has been no looking back.
Poems have been a part of our lives since time immemorial. People have turned to poetry to help them express their emotions and to find comfort. Even in the darkest of times, poetry can be a source of light and hope.
I often imagine poetry as a river flowing since the beginning of time. The river maps its course in parallel with our lives. The bond deepens as our disposition gets shaped by life. Despite the busyness of our lives, it never disappears; it runs its course along with our existence. Poetry can be found all around us: in the words of song lyrics, in the way a baby’s laughter sounds, or even in the shapes we see in clouds.
Poems can have a profound effect on our lives. The words are threads that connect us to the world—it spins its magic and helps us face our deepest emotions. Poetry has been an integral part of our lives and societies. The shapes, forms, and utility kept evolving with changing timelines. The poems of the ancient days were more immaculate and religious. As time passed by, the words kept flowing and gaining strength. It is humbling that there are poems that have stood the test of time and still reverberate their significance. Poetry has always wrestled with the charlatans of society for its existence. Plato wrote the quarrels between philosophy and poetry in the Republic—but in one of the exchanges in Ion, he writes, “For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems, not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed.” Well, thank heavens that poetry still exists in our day and age!
Poems come in all shapes and forms. It is pregnant with meaning. It is a non-conversational exchange between the poet and you. Reading poetry can be a creative break; it can be therapeutic, too. You, the reader, pave the way for your meeting. There are many uses for poems, but most importantly, they can be an invitation to look deeper within oneself. Sometimes, it leads to communion with our natural world. The words become a vehicle for our deepest emotions. Through the poem, our hopes, fears, grief, aspirations, and much more find a way to let themselves out. I like Cohen’s definition: “the poem is nothing but information. It is the Constitution of the inner country.”
Or, as Milosz writes,
The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house to open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.
Poetry isn’t all heavy and serious. Some verses can lighten the mood and bring a smile or two. In my view, you start building a deeper bond with poetry when you create space for it in your daily lives. You may have figured out that the love for poetry makes me feel like a child in a candy store. Poetry blows off my head and soul as Emily Dickinson describes it:
If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?
It is time to bring back poetry into our daily lives like the olden times. Poetry can be a steadfast companion in life. It can help hold attention and appreciate the little things in life. In a time of existential overload, it is the pause that we all need. The more you spend time with poetry, the more magic it spins in your life.
The more your encounter with poetry deepens, the more your experience of your own life will deepen, and you will begin to see things by means of words, and words by means of things. You will come to understand the world as it interacts with words, as it can be re-created by words, by rhythms and by images.
– James Dickey
If you’re looking for a deeper understanding of the world, poetry is a great place to start. Start by taking a few minutes each day to read some poems. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy it and how it can enrich your life. The first thing to understand about poetry is that it comes to you from outside you, in books or words, but that for it to live, something from within you must come to it and meet it and complete it. Your response with your mind and body and memory and emotions gives a poem its ability to work its magic; if you give to it, it will give to you, and give plenty.
Poems can fuel soulful bonfires where you gather to read, share, heal, and get inspired. I always wished for such a bonfire. And the universe acknowledged my wish. I am excited to bring this wish to life in the form of a monthly poetry series with my lovely co-host, Tanya, where we will try to bring more poetry into your lives. I hope that you can join us for this.
I like to imagine that we are pieces of poems floating in this beautiful universe. Each of us is unique and different. But we all are interconnected in the grand scheme of things. So join us to in our attempt to bring back more poetry into our lives.