For those moments in life when we have exhausted our friends willingness to listen, have read all the advice columns and sat in meditation hoping for a clue to ones direction, we can turn to the great poets who have left us their words like crumbs along life’s path. The right poem read at the right moment can spin your mind into a clear and gentle focus. Those timeless lines of language touch our soul reminding us all of our universal connection. When I read of recent discoveries of possible earth-like planets orbiting suns in other galaxies I wondered what their poets write to soothe the lost and comfort the frightened. Are their words kept close at hand to read again and again when nothing else can bring comfort or clarity?
Recently a dear friend entered a Hospice facility and we have been communicating by sending poems to each other. It is our way to express difficult emotions faced with the loss of one leaving this life too soon. We each draw from our favorite poets and are surprised and thrilled when an undiscovered poem arrives in the mail hand printed on a postcard. Rumi is a favorite, Mary Oliver another, translations of Buddhist monks and quotes from Gandhi now decorate my refrigerator along with a picture of my friend smiling and healthy. In the end these bits of language will grace my memories of her, our road trips together across America, our phone conversations, our visits over many years. And always in those moments of meeting we spoke of new and old poems, of the words left to us as a lesson to being human. I share a few of them with you. Feel free to share your favorites as well.
Next: February 2, 1968, by Wendell Berry