Poems I Love, Reflections

How to be a poet

The labor of writing poems, of working with thought and emotion in the encasement (or is it wings?) of language, is strange to nature, for we are first of all creatures of motion.

Only secondly — only oddly, and not naturally, at the moments of contemplation, joy, grief, prayer, or terrorare we found, while awake, in the posture of deliberate or hapless inaction.

But such is the posture of the poet, poor laborer.

The dancer dances, the painter dips and lifts and lays on the oils; the composer reaches at least across the octaves. The poet sits.

The poet sits, or if it is a fluid moment, he scribbles some words upon the page. The body, under this pressure if non-existing, begins to draw up like a muscle, and complain.

For many years, in a place I called ‘Blackwater Woods’, I wrote while I walked. That motion, hardly more than a dreamy sauntering, worked for me; it kept my body happy while I scribbled. But sometimes, it wasn’t all enough. I wanted to build, in the other way, with the teeth of the saw, and the explosions of the hammer, and the little shrieks of the screws winding down into their perfect nests.

~ Mary Oliver, excerpt from Winter Hours

Every time I read this, I savour the words, re-reading them again and again.

And my mind, and my heart, feels completely understood.

The silhouette of a branch with leaves  is just touching the orange sun in the background, the sky is a dark orange hue.
That feeling of being understood!

Above and Featured image: Photo by Aditi Premankit

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