Forgive me, it’s been over 6 weeks since i sat down and tried to think in verse. Forget about the actual work of putting it on paper and tinkering. I could blame all the obligations–work, kid’s stuff, chores, a wedding, a vacation, fiction, and this damned blog–but I don’t do excuses with writing. It’s like Kermit says to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: do or do not.
I’ve been doing not…
But the weird thing is that whenever I think of poems, and my not making time for them, my mind plugs up with two fairly famous poems, one often replacing the other when I try to force the former from my consciousness. Neither are pieces with particularly resounding significance to either my brain or my soul, but it’s as if they’ve infected me. The Dickinson poem is a ubiquitous piece in high school English classes–or used to be before poetry was marginalized in order to make more room for standardized test prep, and I’ve seen the Oliver poem frequently anthologized as well–no idea why they’re colonized my brain, though.
Anyone ever experience anything like this?
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
from Dream Work by Mary Oliver published by Atlantic Monthly Press
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –
The Eyes around – had wrung them dry –
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset – when the King
Be witnessed – in the Room –
I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable – and then it was
There interposed a Fly –
With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –
from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson.