Poetry to Share: Charge of the Light Brigade

I know this poem is super sad, but it’s one of my favorites from childhood. It has a good rhythm, is easy to memorize, and is incredibly dramatic.

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
   Rode the six hundred.

Continue reading

Poems to Share: Mary Oliver

14163793451_e7dd46748fHave you read Mary Oliver? Her poems are beautiful and real and full of nature. She is not stuffy or stickler about rhythm or sending you rushing for a dictionary. Her poems are like rain in spring and wind in fall – invigorating and life-giving. You can read several here.

In the meantime, I have one to share. This poem aptly described my day (many of my days!) and I thought it might resonate with some of you. Much as I love my writing and books and good job, some days I long to be back in the mountains, running and hiking and living practically outdoors. What about you?

Work, Sometimes

I was sad all day, and why not.  There I was, books piled
on both sides of the table, paper stacked up, words
falling off my tongue. Continue reading

Shadows of a dream

There is one major reason why I am an English major. I get into English class, read the assigned poem by Milton and fall in love. I’ve never been a big fan of John Milton, honestly. His poetry is great, just takes a little bit more analysis than I want to practice on a regular basis. Actually, I take that approach with almost all poetry. I like reading it in short sittings, just a few poems at a time. So this was perfect, exactly the setting I need to fall in love with a poem. Anyway, enough commentary. Enjoy!
Methought I saw my late espoused saint
       Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
       Whom Jove’s great son to her glad husband gave,
       Rescu’d from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom wash’d from spot of child-bed taint
       Purification in the old Law did save,
       And such as yet once more I trust to have
       Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind;
       Her face was veil’d, yet to my fancied sight
       Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin’d
So clear as in no face with more delight.
       But Oh! as to embrace me she inclin’d,

       I wak’d, she fled, and day brought back my night.

This poem is filled with allusion and all types of literary devices that my professor wants me to notice. But here is what stood out to me: It is full of emotion. From my scant knowledge, I’d always considered Milton a serious (and boring) guy. However, this poem is full of pathos. It portrays a man passionately in love with his wife and depressed at her death. Added to that, you have the fact of his blindness, leading to that magnificent last line. That was my initial feeling on the poem.
Just like Milton, I have woken to disappointment. I did a little bit of Internet research. As far as I can tell, Milton was very serious and stern, possibly even arrogant. His marriages (3 of them), were not necessarily romantic. The wife he is apparently writing about was married to him for less than a year. Milton himself was a strong supporter of divorce, making me skeptical about his commitment, both emotional and legally. All of this makes it seem that the emotion displayed in the poem may be somewhat feigned. In a technical manner, the poem is still masterful. But for me, a lot of the attraction to the poem was the emotion, the imagined depression of a heartbroken, lonely husband. Withdrawing that, it is far less powerful.

On a calm summer night

I ran across a poem at work the other day. My job involves a lot of copyediting, so I frequently browse the text without really reading it. This caught my attention though.

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson
Take a minute and let that sink in. I have never personally attempted suicide, but I know people who have, and I have considered it before. The people who are depressed are often perfectly normal looking. They will likely not tell you verbally that they are depressed or that they think life might not be worth it. You have to search it out….be there for them. Give them a reason to live. Please, next time you see someone who seems down, even in the slightest, don’t ignore it. Sometimes the most miserable people are the ones who are super friendly and look like they have it all together. If you ever see a flash of misery or an unguarded moment when they look depressed, notice it. They may be struggling. Suicide isn’t something you ignore. Take it seriously. You could save someone’s life.