I have been known in the past to jot down some poetry. When, in high school, we needed some copy to fill a bunch of white space in the yearbook (yeah, I was big huge nerd in high school) I'd toss out a quick bit of iambic pentameter or a haiku, etc. Of course this is not to say that they were any good, just funny.
Having said this, I'm not really a big fan of poetry. Mostly because I'm a lazy reader and if I have to decipher what I'm reading I lose interest pretty fast and a lot of poetry is written in such a way that the reader has to decipher what exactly it is that they're reading. Especially a lot of the older poems, you know, the ones by Byron or Longfellow or Plath. But then, I guess if it were straightforward it wouldn't be called poetry.
Anyway, I came across a poem today that I became instantly entranced with. Yes, I did have to do some deciphering but the poet paints such a vivid mental picture that it was worth it. It's called The Ruined Cottage by William Wordsworth. It's really long, so if you don't have the time or the inclination to take 20 minutes to read one poem then don't follow the link but if you are so inclined, by all means check it out.
The poem is a story within a story and it is sad and poignant and even had me a little misty eyed at one point. He touches on a lot of different human emotions and beliefs. At one point he talks about death and faith and all the things that go with both those things. He does it in such a beautiful way...
(It helps to read it ignoring the line breaks. Most people, myself included, when reading poetry, tend to be a little sing-songy because of the way poems are broken up. So pretend it's one big paragraph and only pay attention to the puncuation.)
"My Friend! enough to sorrow you have given,
The purposes of wisdom ask no more:
Nor more would she have craved as due to One
Who, in her worst distress, had ofttimes felt
The unbounded might of prayer; and learned, with soul
Fixed on the Cross, that consolation springs,
From sources deeper far than deepest pain,
For the meek Sufferer. Why then should we read
The forms of things with an unworthy eye?
She sleeps in the calm earth, and peace is here.
I well remember that those very plumes,
Those weeds, and the high spear-grass on that wall,
By mist and silent rain-drops silvered o'er,
As once I passed, into my heart conveyed
So still an image of tranquillity,
So calm and still, and looked so beautiful
Amid the uneasy thoughts which filled my mind,
That what we feel of sorrow and despair
From ruin and from change, and all the grief
That passing shows of Being leave behind,
Appeared an idle dream, that could maintain,
Nowhere, dominion o'er the enlightened spirit
Whose meditative sympathies repose
Upon the breast of Faith...."
So this is just a teeny tiny bit of the poem. I really am enamoured of the way he paints a picture in your head. It comes alive for me.
On the lighter side, check out this little bit of poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson...
(Click photo to enlarge)
His Child's Garden of Verses was previously my favorite, I think The Ruined Cottage might have replaced it.