This month, I am renewed in my love of poetry. The inspiration from reading classic poetry, great contemporary poetry, finding the words that speak to my heart and my experiences. This is what made me fall in love with it – at just 7 years old after reading some of Emily Dickinson’s work.

In my loneliness and sadness during my adolescence, writing poetry gave me an outlet for emotions I would have otherwise kept bottled up inside. Reading poetry made me feel not quite alone in the world.

Sylvia Plath said about her poetry that they “… do not turn out to be about Hiroshima, but about a child forming itself finger by finger in the dark. They are not about the terrors of mass extinction, but about the bleakness of the moon over a yew tree in a neighboring graveyard … in a sense, these poems are deflections. I do not think they are an escape.”

Today, I want to share a contemporary poem that really spoke to me when I first read it. It was introduced to me by an author I corresponded with and who helped me with my own poetry when I was young. It is one of those that I keep going back to …

Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.



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