Saturday, August 21, 2010

Books, Days 15-16 -- Comfort and Poetry

Day 15 – Your “comfort” book

I don't know that I have a comfort book, really. If I need comfort, I either go to a specific topic for which I need advice, like "I'm Still Your Mother," or I'll control my worried monkey-mind with a magazine, like O Magazine, which doesn't require much concentration to go from story to story but still lets me escape and not think about whatever it is I'm obsessing over for a bit. I don't do well with most novels when I'm worried -- takes too much effort to concentrate.

Day 16 – Favorite poem or collection of poetry

I've already talked about Eugene Field and his poetry, my favorites from childhood.

I have always loved poetry: the pithy bits of language that capture a feeling, a situation, a person. I love the strength of Walt Whitman and never see the ocean without thinking of his "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking." Or fog without recalling Carl Sandburg. Or hear of a death without remembering Emily Dickinson.

I wrote my senior English college paper on Dylan Thomas and his dark and eloquent poems. Arguably the most famous is "Do not go gentle into that good night, " and I'll confess that I remind myself with that poem to savor each day, each event, each emotion with all my self.

My favorite all-purpose poet, though, is Robert Frost and especially his "The Road Not Taken." So many times I've stood at that place where the roads diverge and looked down them, wondering what lay beyond what I can see. I remember him, fine white hair blowing in the wind, trying to read a poem written for JFK's inauguration, and because the sun was blindingly bright, ended up reciting another poem from memory, "The Gift Outright."

Long ago in high school I sang another of his poems, "Choose something like a star," part of Frostiana, a suite written by composer Randall Thompson. I've always loved that poem as well, although to recite it, I hear the music in my head!

And yet another of his prolific works, and one to which I've often referred, is "Fire and Ice."

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great,
And would suffice.

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