Learning to Read Poetry – January 31 2020

Learning to Read Poetry – January 31 2020

How does the ordinary person come to the transcendent? For a start, I would say, study poetry. Learn how to read a poem. You need not have the experience to get the message, or at least some indication of the message. It may come gradually.

Joseph Campbell,

Thou Art That: Transforming Religious Metaphor


And some time make the time to drive out west

Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,

In September or October, when the wind

And the light are working off each other

So that the ocean on one side is wild

With foam and glitter, and inland among stones

The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit

By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,

Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,

Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads

Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.

Useless to think you’ll park and capture it

More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,

A hurry through which known and strange things pass

As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways

And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Seamus Heaney,

1939 – 2013

Today I will look for the poetic in my life. I will seek beauty in the way my partner brushes her hair, straightens his shirt, touches her ear as she thinks about her day. I will stand for a time with a tree, knowing that it, too, has poetry to reveal to me.

Adele and the Irish Girls, County Clare, Ireland