Thursday, April 29, 2010

Poem in your pocket day

Today is national poem in your pocket day as National Poetry Month winds down. I was at a poetry class last night, mostly being attended by public school teachers. One of the women who teaches fifth grade announced the poem-in-your-pocket idea and said one of her shyest students had approached the scariest custodian with her poem and read it to him. Several hours later, he approached the little girl and read her one too. I love that story. I love the idea of two poems connecting two people who typically wouldn't have reached out to each other.

A friend of mine, Dale, spends time each week memorizing a poem and then recites it to his mother, who's in her mid-90s, when he talks to her on the phone. She was an English teacher in her middle years and poetry is a deep bond between them.

I signed up for the poetry class (five 3-hour sessions) because I'd thoroughly enjoyed the teacher, Kim Stafford, during a workshop in January. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, I could hear that most people were taking the class for credit and looking for ways to enliven their classrooms. When it came my turn to talk, I just said I was there for the fun of it. I wrote three poems last night and it was wonderful.

Here's the poem I put in my pocket today. I first knew it as lyrics to a Judy Collins Song in the early 70s.

William Butler Yeats, 1865-1939
I will arise and go now
And go to Innisfree
And a small cabin build there
Of clay and wattles made
Nine bean rows will I have there
A hive for the honey bee
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there
For peace comes dropping slow
Dropping from the veils of the morning
To where the cricket sings
There midnight's all a glimmer
And noon a purple glow
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now
For always night and day
I hear lake water lapping
With low sounds by the shore
While I stand on the roadway
Or on the pavements gray
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

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