|Four hands, turning in coordinated motions. The swish and slap of two ropes on the concrete playground, two girls leaping in unison to the rhythm:|
|Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back…
|A grandmother takes a restless child in her arms; she rocks back and forth, back and forth, gently singing her granddaughter to sleep:|
|Before each flickering star fades out of sight
Just give me one little kiss,
Then let me whisper good night
(It’s getting late and dear your pillow’s waiting)*
|A high school student sits at her desk, reading for the first time, poems about The Great War, and for the first time begins to understand:|
|Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags,
We cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.**
This is April, and it’s National Poetry month. We tend to think of poems as something we must memorize in school, or an almost arcane form of literature. Really, though, poems are with us from the first rhythmic lyrics our infant ears absorb, until the last words we remember – – even with dementia – – from our childhood and teenage years.
Have you considered your personal history with poetry? What are the lyrics of your life?
How have poems opened your mind? Changed it? Soothed you, or nettled you?
Take your own tour back to your earliest days and write down the poems that have made a difference for you.
Happy National Poetry Month!
If you want to learn more about the power of poetry, especially combined with music,
check out the article, “Lyrical Miracles” from the BBC UK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zgqqrdm#zs88v4j
* Sleepy Time Gal – Lorenzo, Whiting, Alden and Egan
** Dulce et Decorum Est – Wilfred Owen