Thursday, September 20, 2012

Recommend Me Some Poems

I've found myself becoming much more interested in poetry this year than I ever have been previously. I'm finding the process fascinating not only in and of itself, but also from a one-step-back perspective of watching another world of art and richness open up in front of me.

It was the Hafiz play back in March that really got me started, and then following that up with reading so much more of his work in Daniel Ladinsky's lovely translations. That's what got the heart hooked. But my mind always likes to go along for the ride too, and I have Stephen Fry to thank for helping with that. His book, The Ode Less Travelled, is an absolute delight. He teaches poetry for the benefit of someone who just wants to understand a bit about how it all works so as to enjoy it more, and he does so by writing some of the most amusing and entertaining non-fiction I've read in ages.

I'm still, of course, a complete novice in this whole area, but it's shifted into a different gear for me now. I'm approaching it more like music: actually learning (memorizing) poems and watching how they develop as I get to know them better, how sometimes an odd or confusing line will turn into a favorite, the way a tricky dissonant note can become the key color in the enjoyment of a harmony. And it can be as fun to have a poem in your head as a piece of music, to recite it in the shower or on a walk, like you'd whistle a tune.

Here are a few of the poems I've enjoyed recently:
  • Samadhi, by Paramhansa Yogananda, I actually memorized a while ago, but have recently brought it back more actively into my mind and my meditations.
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins seems like someone who's poetry I want to explore more of. So far I've encountered Pied Beauty and God's Grandeur
  • I think I'd always had an impression of e. e. cummings as being rather too far off the weird end of the banana for my taste (perhaps because of things like this), so I was rather delighted when I discovered the lovely i thank You God for most this amazing. Another sort of fun one is anyone lived in a pretty how town, though the recording of him reading it bugs the heck out of me. 
  • In this case, I was just pleased to find a poem about banjos: The Grain of Sound, by Robert Morgan.
  • Here's an interesting question: What's the difference between a poem and song lyrics sans music? For some reason, Dave Carter's When I Go — though it's a gorgeous song — somehow particularly strikes me as a poem. His The River Where She Sleeps has some of that quality as well, though others, like Gentle Arms of Eden for instance, do not. I don't know what it is. Could just be my own random brain thing. 
  • And, of course, I always have a particular fondness for the silly and playful stuff. Two amusements of late have been The Sniffle, by Ogden Nash, and Knight-in-Armour, by A. A. Milne.
So, that's my little starter list there. Have anything to add? What's your favorite poem that I should know about? 

1 comment:

Dambara said...

Thanks for all those fun references, Tandava! Enjoyed reading/hearing/revisiting them. Will post any I think of when I do...