Poetically speaking, April is actually the coolest, not the cruelest month.
The hot topic around the table at the sublime Zuni Cafe was how perfectly seductive it is to hear a man recite a poem. Consensus was, “Oh, yeah!” Wordsworth said, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from a motion we collected in tranquility”. Voltaire called poetry, “Music of the soul”.
Whether you recite a poem, a haiku, a sonnet – whether it’s blank verse – or free verse, lyrical or satirical- women swoon over poetry. There’s something irresistible and alluring about having someone recite a poem to you.
Remember: poems are meant to be slow and leisurely, read aloud and read more than once.
Now is the time, April, – to pick up a book of poems, choose a poet – whether it’s Ogden Nash (Candy Is dandy; But liquor Is quicker) or W.H. Auden, or local poet laureate: Kay Ryan or T.S. Eliot Keats, or Billy Collins. Find a slim volume of poems and revel in the language.
Billy Collins, the highly esteemed, favorite among English majors everywhere, Poet Laureate,blithely explains teaching poetry to students in his poem entitled, “Poetry 101”
1. Elizabeth Barrett Browning “How Do I Love thee? Let me count the ways”
2. Robert Burns, scalding red-hot love poem: “My Red, Red, Rose”
3. Emily Dickinson “I Cannot Live with You”
4. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 “Shall I Compare You to a Summer’s Day?”
5. Sir Walter Raleigh “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd”
6. Billy Collins “Litany”
7. William Wordsworth “The Daffodils”
8. W.H Auden’s “Funeral Blues”
9. Francis William Bourdillon “The Night has a Thousand Eyes”
10.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “The Day is Done”
April is Poetry Month: Read them, recite them, revel in poetry.
“Poetry is the shadow cast by out streetlight imaginations.” Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Robert Frost. 1875–
WHEN I see birches bend to left and right
Across the line of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them 5
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells 10
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed 15
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. 20
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows— 25
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again 30
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away 35
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish, 40
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches;
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood 45
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over. 50
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, 55
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches. 60
San Francisco Dating@50 Examiner, Page Larkin, welcomes your feedback, questions and queries at email@example.com.