Words for Wednesday

I keep posting poems, even though most Americans, if you stop them on the street and ask, will say that they don’t like poetry.  I think they say that (well, I would, wouldn’t I?) because what they don’t like is the way that poetry was taught and force fed to them in school.  The easiest way to grow up liking poetry is to have a parent who loves it, and who quotes it freely, and who simply conveys that it’s one of the better parts of life.

But, sadly, that’s not as common as I wish it were.

Roger Housden  is another way to learn to take sustenance from poetry.  He gets a bit of a ribbing from “serious” poetry scholars, but his “Ten Poems” series —  Ten Poem to Open Your Heart , Ten Poems to Set You Free,, Ten Poems to Say Goodbye,  etc. — are an excellent way for people who say they don’t like poetry to get into poems.  (My BFF isn’t a huge fan of poetry, but she has a line from Mary Oliver’s  poem, A Summer’s Day , tattooed on her forearm, where she can see it:   “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”)

Housden has released a new book of poetry,  Ten Poems for Difficult Times.   And,   Eutrepe knows,  we need that now.  Here’s the opening poem in Housden’s book, written by the poet, Maggie Smith.

As a parent and grandparent, I can completely relate.  We are always telling these small lies to convey and protect the deeper truth.

Good Bones


Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
That’s what good poetry does for us, doesn’t it?  It reminds us that we COULD make this place even more beautiful.
Even if you don’t like poetry, you might need Housden’s new book.


6 responses to “Words for Wednesday

  1. Poetry, you say? I love it. Studied it closely, with great affection, through college in particular, but really all my life.

    Here’s a poem that echoes down from 199 years ago, to resonate with us today:

    An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King;
    Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
    Through public scorn,—mud from a muddy spring;
    Rulers who neither see nor feel nor know,
    But leechlike to their fainting country cling
    Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow.
    A people starved and stabbed in th’ untilled field;
    An army, whom liberticide and prey
    Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield;
    Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
    Religion Christless, Godless—a book sealed;
    A senate, Time’s worst statute, unrepealed—
    Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may
    Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.

    –Percy Bysshe Shelley, “England, 1919”

  2. I love poetry, but perhaps that’s one of the signs of a Witch.

    Here in the UK there is a publisher called Candlestick Press which publishes “Instead of a card” poetry pamphlets with various themes (eg Ten Poems About Grandparents” ) which you can send instead of a card for a birthday, anniversary etc. It’s a lovely way to introduce poetry to folk who wouldn’t normally think of reading poems.

  3. Stephanie Christenson

    This just came out. https://www.arts.gov/art-works/2018/taking-note-poetry-reading-%E2%80%94federal-survey-results

    Many people read poetry when they’re feeling at risk, sad, grieving. I wonder if the uptick is due to that?

    This may have something to do with Americans feeling so vulnerable. https://eand.co/why-america-is-the-worlds-first-poor-rich-country-17f5a80e444a

  4. Lovely poem by Andrew Marvell ….. The Garden ……

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s