“Why would we write if we’d already heard what we want to hear?”
There is something so lovely about being read to, isn’t there? As tiny babes, this is one of the ways we enter the magical land of words. And yet, those days of being read to, of being soothed and saddened and uplifted by words read aloud, those days are so fleeting.
Ah, but how soul-satisfying hearing words spoken rhythmically can be! That’s why reading poetry aloud can be so enchanting, so energizing and entertaining. And when you have different voices chiming in and different people sharing different poems, it’s lovelier still.
So what a gift to spend an enchanted evening listening to a wild and wonderful gathering of poems plucked from the pages of books — some well-worn, some new — by a small band of poets and poetry lovers! We sat around a table and just read poems aloud to each other that had touched us in some way. We read poems by Sara Teasdale, Langston Hughes, Mary Oliver — all poets I’ve known and enjoyed. And we read poems by wordsmiths who were new to me, but revelatory: Mary Kinzie, Linda Gregg, and Stanley Kunitz. What a delightful evening!
So get thee to a poetry book (or site)! Whatever you’re writing, adding more rhythm and imagery will only make it stronger. To whet your appetite, here is “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” by WB Yeats. Be sure to read these lines aloud: To me, they sound like water lapping, soft and soothing:
“I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and soon a purple glow,
And evening full of linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.”
Perhaps we should all start our day reading poetry —
and then write on.