05 April 2006

national poetry month

I'm a few days late, but April is National Poetry Month, and there's practically nothing I like better than an excuse to read and talk about poetry. So I thought I'd post a favorite poem or two (or three or four...) throughout the month, although it's a pretty formidable task to choose just a few favorites. Plath, cummings, Neruda, Angelou, Whitman... where do I begin?

But when I think about my love of poetry, there is a clear answer to that question, because there is one poem that sparked in me a more mature and passionate understanding of poetry than I had previously had. It wasn't until I heard this particular poem read aloud by a poetry professor in college that poetry really came alive for me. All of a sudden it was more than words on a page -- this poem was a real, living thing, and it was read so beautifully that I immediately fell in love with the professor reading it. (For the rest of my college career I tried to enroll in a poetry class with this professor, but was never able to fit it in. Alas.)

It doesn't do the poem justice to merely print it here, because the printed word lacks the emotion stirred inside by a passionate human voice, but it's the best I can do under the circumstances.

The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

1 comment:

ren said...

I'm sure you can find some good poems here: http://www.poets.org