Monday, April 11, 2011

Staff Pick of the Week

Megan's Picks

I've always loved poetry. Both of my grandmothers loved poetry. I inherited their books when they passed and their poetry tomes are some of my most cherished possessions. I've added to the collection as the years have passed, even adding my own poems, not to the printed page but to the blog page. I won't inflict my works on you. But I will share two works by two of my favorite poets.

The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems By Billy Collins.

Collins, a former Poet Laureate of the United States, has been hailed, rightly so, for his accessibility. His easy language is deceptive. His images are so clear and understandable, not clouded with heavy verse and rhymes and poetic pretension of the past. And that, as he states in this title poem, is

"The Trouble With Poetry" (excerpt from the poem "The Trouble With Poetry)

The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night--
cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky--

the trouble with poetry is
that is encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.

And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world.

and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.

My second selection was more difficult to choose. I love the Epic Poem: the Beowulf-s and the Gilgamesh-es, the Odysses-es and the Aeneid-s. I love the Romantics (Big R, not little r, as my favorite professor would say.) In the end, I went with the artist and poem that always springs first to mind when I think of poetry.

Poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson Selected by Ruth Greiner Rausen

"The Lady of Shalott" Part I

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow-veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
Down to tower-d Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers, "'Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott.'"

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