The rhythm of the rain
God’s pattern of music
echoes divine favor
bridges heaven and earth.
Poetry is the rain
that soaks the senses
and sings the melody
which waters the soul.
(Debra Burton 2014)
“Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.” Carl Sandburg Atlantic Monthly, March 1923
In case you forgot, April is National Poetry Month. During the month of April flowers bloom and butterflies flutter. What a great time of year to recognize the significant contribution of poetry to our world. Maybe you haven’t given this art form much thought. Maybe you enjoyed reading poetry in school, but currently read novels instead. Maybe you don’t feel like you understand what some poets are trying to say. If you agree with any or all of these statements, please consider the following benefits of reading poetry.
- Poetry helps readers grow intellectually. It teaches us to simplify complex ideas through the use of symbolism and imagery. As we read we draw a mental picture of what the poet sees.
- When we engage with the emotions of the poet, we develop empathy. If we identify with the experiences of other people, we better understand ourselves.
- Poetry infuses life with beauty and meaning, which increases our creativity.
Take a few moments to access these links. In her poem, Hope is a thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson compares hope to a bird that never makes demands. Shel Silverstein grapples with the secret world of dialogue known to caterpillars in his poem, Forgotten Language. William Wordsworth elevates his mood by contemplating daffodils in his work, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. All of these poems connect with the reader’s emotions through the appreciation of nature. These poets make new discoveries as they ponder the small things which are often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of life.
Writing poetry is a vehicle for artistic self-expression. Who I am, what I think, and my experiences are communicated by showing instead of telling. The poet paints with words, like an artist paints on canvas.
In his book, How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry, author Edward Hirsch refers to poetry as a message in a bottle. After the message is cast into the ocean, it drifts onto the beach waiting to be opened. The finder is the one the message was trying to reach. Once the finder opens it, words spill out from a distant place and time, yet still rich with meaning.
The following poems are my messages in a bottle. Cast out upon the waves, may these words reach the finders they are seeking.
For My Brother
As night fell in the desert
We stretched out on our cots,
Saw distant constellations
Whose titles we forgot
Viewed streaks of falling stars
Pulled down by gravity
Like fleeting dreams of childhood
Which never came to be.
The howl of a coyote
Made such an eerie sound.
It cautioned all outsiders,
“I will defend my ground.”
We whispered to each other
And felt a tinge of fright
Like children telling stories
When Dad turned out the light.
(Debra Burton 2015)
A Hapless Hero
Flutter of butterflies hover on the scene.
Arizona thistles bow before each queen.
Flutter of butterflies crowned in orange and white,
Seated on their purple thrones surrounded by the light.
Flutter of butterflies lift your scepters up.
Raise the royal chalice, drink deeply from the cup.
One little butterfly caught so unaware,
Lunch for a roadrunner dashing to his lair.
Roadrunner, fierce hunter, slowing to a stop.
Overcome with dizziness, suddenly he drops.
Flutter of butterflies, your banquet is not done.
Your kingdom was saved by the sacrifice of one.
(Debra Burton 2015)