Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Happy Wednesday, Dear Readers! I hope you're all well and having a fun, productive week?

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before (in passing, at least) that as a teenager I used to write a lot of poetry. I was published in a few regional poetry magazines and anthologies and even won some minor awards for my poems. Poetry was such a huge part of my identity as a writer in those days - I used to feel as if poems were multiplying in my head too fast to see, like rainbows glancing off the prism of my mind, that if I didn't clear a space by writing them down they'd come out of my ears!

When I finally cracked the Neverending Story problem and started to complete full-length novels, somehow that endless well of poetry seemed to dry up a little. The need to write three or four poems a day abated (which was partly a relief, because it wasn't always convenient, and partly a sorrow, because it felt like abruptly growing up). Now I'm moved to sit down and actually TRY to write poetry a couple of times a year - not always successfully - and often those poems end up getting dismantled and turned into descriptions for stories instead.

But I still love the form just as much as I ever did, and I probably read more poetry now than I did before. When I stumble across the right poem at the right time, I feel as if a door in my head has been opened - as if I've invited inspiration to drop by any time it wants in the most friendly and casual way. Sometimes that little chink of light let in by the door sets off the rainbow prism effect again, spurring me to come up with creative solutions to problems that have plagued me for weeks, but which I couldn't figure out directly.

So with that in mind, I thought I'd share a few of my favourites this morning, and one poem that I wrote myself. I hope you find that at least one of these opens a door for inspiration in your head too :)

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For the time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
                                                 Wendell Berry


This distance between us
which stretches and shrinks,
as the breathing trees,
exhaling their oxygen,
lift and sigh with the weight of the world,
clasped by the molten center.
How in this braided pattern
we dance in and out
of our bodies which dance in and out
themselves, never one thing or the other.
What is this that we are
so like the mist that changes to water;
this rocking tide that we remember
imperfectly in our separate skins.
Burdened with ourselves,
as we love one another,
how to escape the unyielding law of the universe,
the self and the Other;
imperfect love.
That the self, sometimes
in sleep, admits the loss, the grief, and accepts
the burden of loneliness; embracing
what we will not admit we long for
this separation of mother and daughter.
Ruth Stone                                                 

The Young Man's Song

I whispered, 'I am too young,'
And then, 'I am old enough';
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
'Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair.'
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.

O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.
W.B. Yeats                                             

And, just to mix it up a bit:

The Dream

I have dreamed of the summer whisper of wind high up amongst green boughs
And darts of gold piercing leaf shadow
Dreamed of the soft movement of water
And ripples with dark underbellies curling on river stones
And I felt the brush of warm air against my cheek
Velvety and fluttering like a bird’s wing
Disappearing with that sweet, aching throb of song
That takes the dream and the summer with it
And leaves me, eyes welling
In darkness 
                 Zoë Marriott


Jenni said...

Really interesting post. I remember clearly having to study poetry in English, and some I absolutely loved whereas some didn't work for me. I tried writing it, but I don't think my brain works that way creatively. I really like that one by Ruth Stone.

Zoë Marriott said...

Jenni: Mine doesn't always work that way, either - I think it's a very quirky thing, a very individual thing. And that's why poems tend to either set you on fire or leave you completely cold, too. So much of it is about emotion.

Isabel said...

You write beautiful poetry!! Thanks for sharing. :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Isabel: Thank you :) I think that's my main weakness, actually - I tend to get so caught up in making my poems pretty that they don't have much real content. But I do still have fun writing them!

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