In great poems, two lines can take you anywhere

To be the person who selects the Poetry Foundation’s “Poem of the Day” in springtime is to have it good. Crisp, warm, lively lines abound.

Even when life goes wrong, as the Gerald Stern poem shows below, life is interesting. Even when there is rain, as the short and beautiful Langston Hughes link shows, the world is beautiful. Each blockquote that follows is the first two lines of its respective poem, except for the last one, which begins a final stanza and is far too good to leave out.

Tonight,” by Ladan Osman.

Tonight is a drunk man,
his dirty shirt.

Recuerdo,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.

Another Insane Devotion,” Gerald Stern.

This was gruesome—fighting over a ham sandwich
with one of the tiny cats of Rome, he leaped

April Rain Song,” Langston Hughes.

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops

April,” by Alicia Ostriker.

What a concerto
of good stinks said the dog

Something the Poetry Foundation published recently that wasn’t about spring but I decided to appropriate for the season was Vera Pavlova’s prose piece, “Heaven Is Not Verbose: A Notebook” — subtitled further, “Why poetry is like earthworms, thought is like cud, and understanding is like insanity.” If that title doesn’t sell you, I worry for you. Read. It’s wonderful, rich and alive, escaping like earthworms after a spring rain.

Graf: “As I am learning to speak English, I catch myself saying in it not what I want to but what I can say. Then I realize that much the same happens when I speak my native Russian. Only in poems, at times, I manage to say what I want. On such occasions, I feel I am speaking not Russian but some other language that is truly my native.” Me too.

Not in poems, just in daily life. The occasion isn’t often, but sometimes the right words end up in the right order at the right pace. I like spring for the season’s fits and starts, spits and starts, its lengthy struggle to grow warmer and more consistently clear. Two good lines are morning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


9 − = 3

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>