Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A "Theme Poem" - Doesn't Everyone Have One?

Photo credit: Mayfly1963
Flickr.com
It's National Poetry Month, and one of the items on my reading challenge list is a book of poetry. So I went to the shelf of books from my good ole' days as an English major and pulled down the thinnest volume, 100 selected poems by e.e. cummings. I've been reading four or five of them each night. At first, I was maintaining good "English major" form, trying to analyze the figurative language and appreciate the depth of allusions and analogies, and so forth. But honestly, I'm kind of tired at the end of the day, and that kind of analysis takes a lot of mental energy. So the last few nights, I've just been reading the poems and letting them say whatever they will to me, whether it is "deep" or not.

One thing I've noticed is that these poems mean things that are entirely different than they did 30 years ago, ha ha. That in itself has made the experience worthwhile, and it actually makes me motivated to go get the fat yellow Norton Anthology of Poetry off the shelf and revisit some of my favorite poems now that I actually have some life experience.

The other night, I decided to look at poem #53 in cummings' collection, since I'm going to be 53 years old this summer. "It will be my theme poem for the year," I told myself as I flipped to the page. And here it is:
may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile
Not bad, eh? I think I will make that my theme poem for the coming year.

Note: The beautiful bird picture above is from my sister's Flickr stream. She has posted many, many lovely pictures of things we sometimes take for granted, like insects and wildflowers, as well as birds. You should visit it!

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