Celebration of Profound Poetry

It is now nine months since I started a poetry thread on the  Linkedin Group,  TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, with the words: Poetry can be profoundly important in our lives and certain lines can reach to one’s very depths. What poems or lines of poetry have special meaning for you?   The thread has captured imaginations of people with an interest in poetry from all round the world and as I write this post, I expect the 5,000th contribution to be posted.

In many ways the last nine months have been like a pregnancy for me in terms of the sheer wonderment that each day brings and I’m glad to say that there has been no morning sickness – rather morning excitement as I log on to see what gems have been posted overnight. Because of its global reach, this is a thread that never sleeps.

I have spent the last few days reading through the entire thread with a view to identifying my very favourite poems. This has been an extraordinary experience because many of the contributors now feel like old friends and it is hard to absorb the fact that I have only known them for a few short months. However, such is the camaraderie and shared love of poetry within the group, it seems that we have a link as strong as Seamus Heaney’s imagery.  Poetry is, without doubt, a universal language and one that has been spoken through the depths of history.

I have felt intensely proud to be Irish over the last nine months as Ireland has such a wealth of poetry to bring to the world and my chosen line at the outset was from W.B. Yeats, ‘ Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.’

I have drawn up a long list and a short list of my favourite lines and poems from the last nine months and I would like to bring you my top five here.

The first are these three lines from 13th Century Persian poet, Rumi:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing

and rightdoing there is a field.

I’ll meet you there

 The second is a poem which was found among the meagre possessions of an elderly woman who died in a geriatric ward of a small hospital in Scotland:

Crabby Old Woman

What do you see, nurses?

What do you see?

What are you thinking,

When you’re looking at me?

A crabby old woman,

Not very wise,

Uncertain of habit,

With faraway eyes.

Who dribbles her food,

And makes no reply,

When you say in a loud voice,

“I do wish you’d try!”

Who seems not to notice,

The things that you do,

And forever is losing,

A stocking or shoe

Who, resisting or not

Lets you do as you will,

With bathing and feeding,

The long day to fill?

Is that what you’re thinking?

Is that what you see?

Then open your eyes, nurse,

You’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am,

As I sit here so still,

As I do at your bidding,

As I eat at your will.

I’m a small child of ten,

With a father and mother,

Brothers and sisters,

Who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen,

With wings on her feet,

Dreaming that soon now,

A lover she’ll meet.

A bride soon at twenty,

My heart gives a leap,

Remembering the vows,

That I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now,

I have young of my own,

Who need me to guide,

And a secure happy home.

A woman of thirty,

My young now grown fast,

Bound to each other,

With ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons,

Have grown and are gone,

But my man’s beside me,

To see I don’t mourn.

At fifty once more,

Babies play round my knee,

Again we know children,

My loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me,

My husband is dead,

I look at the future,

I shudder with dread.

For my young are all rearing,

Young of their own,

And I think of the years,

And the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old woman,

And nature is cruel,

‘Tis jest to make old age,

Look like a fool.

The body, it crumbles,

Grace and vigor depart,

There is now a stone,

Where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass,

A young girl still dwells,

And now and again,

My battered heart swells.

I remember the joys,

I remember the pain,

And I’m loving and living,

Life over again.

I think of the years,

All too few, gone too fast,

And accept the stark fact,

That nothing can last.

So open your eyes, people,

Open and see,

Not a crabby old woman;

Look closer – see ME!!

The third is a poem about love  from Carl Sandburg:

Love is a Deep and a Dark and a Lonely

love is a deep and a dark and a lonely

and you take it deep take it dark

and take it with a lonely winding

and when the winding gets too lonely

then may come the windflowers

and the breath of wind over many flowers

winding its way out of many lonely flowers

waiting in rainleaf whispers

waiting in dry stalks of noon

wanting in a music of windbreaths

so you can take love as it comes keening

as it comes with a voice and a face

and you make a talk of it

talking to yourself a talk worth keeping

and you put it away for a keen keeping

and you find it to be a hoarding

and you give it away and yet it stays hoarded

like a book read over and over again

like one book being a long row of books

like leaves of windflowers bending low

and bending to be never broken

The fourth are these lines from Albert Camus:

In the depth of winter,

I finally learned that

Within myself there lay

An invincible summer.

And my final choice  is a poem by  Charles Bukowski:

Writing

often it is the only

thing

between you and

impossibility.

no drink,

no woman’s love,

no wealth

can

match it.

nothing can save

you

except

writing.

it keeps the walls

from

failing.

the hordes from

closing in.

it blasts the

darkness.

writing is the

ultimate

psychiatrist,

the kindliest

god of all the

gods.

writing stalks

death.

it knows no

quit.

and writing

laughs

at itself,

at pain.

it is the last

expectation,

the last

explanation.

that’s

what it

is.

My hope is that the poetry thread will continue to weave words, lines and poems that truly touch the soul and that opportunities will arise to share the wonderful tapestry that is being created.

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and I love to write both non-fiction and poetry.

7 thoughts on “Celebration of Profound Poetry”

  1. I’ve followed that thread on LinkedIn, and have met some most interesting people from all around the world in addition to reading some profoundly moving poetry. Thank you for initiating it, and for keeping it alive,

  2. Jean, I have read so many different poems and have learned of so many new poets on your amazing thread. The people I have connected with feel like friends to me as well and I love to get up in the morning to read what has been posted overnight! I’ve laughed, I’ve cried but I am never tired of reading and sharing. I hope it forever continues! Thank you.

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