Poetry, Whither Though Comest


“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”
Plato

I am not an artist/poet. I tend to the practical rather than the romantic. I have no sense of rhythm. My body does not sway to the music of the dance floor. If I give voice to the music in my head, it erupts into a discordant howl. I agonize over the thoughts swirling in my mind , desperately trying to type them into coherent words. I describe this as, my stick figured writing, reaching for Van Goth. And yes, my attempt at art is confined to stick figures.

Lent starts tomorrow, a time of purifying the body to renew the spirit, and so I thought this would be the perfect time to coax some poetry from my soul.

My past poetry experience had been limited to the poetic works of St. John of the Cross, Jessica Powers and my life long friend ‘Selected Works of Poetry and Prose’. However, since signing on to WordPress a year ago, I have read some wonderful blogs expressing various forms of poetry and am starting to think that attempting to write some poetry would improve my overall writing.

I started this blog as a diary but have recently attempted some short fictional stories. I would like to express my endless gratitude to fellow bloggers, who help and encourage new comers like me, by posting thoughtful prompts and offering encouraging comments, when these prompts are attempted.

To start my poetry experience, while searching for inspiration I am going back to a biblical source, The Song of Songs. I will be reading and reflecting on this unusual section of the Old Testament…….and perhaps share some of my findings over the next forty days. The Song of Songs starts with:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
 for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
 your name is like perfume poured out.
 No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
 Let the king bring me into his chambers.

Here are the first two stanzas of a poem known as The Shepherd, by St. John of the Cross.

A lone young shepherd lived in pain

Withdrawn from pleasure and contentment,

His thoughts fixed on a shepherd girl

His heart an open wound with love.

He weeps, but not from the wound of love,

There is no pain in such a wound

However deeply it opens the heart;

He weeps in knowing he’s been forgotten.

So, my learning path to writing poetry starts tomorrow. If anyone reading this can offer some advice I will be eternally grateful……and promise not to return from the grave to haunt you. Exactly how long is eternal?

29 thoughts on “Poetry, Whither Though Comest

  1. IMHO if you’re not in love don’t write a poem about it. Poetry works best when you feel very intensely about that which you write. If you’re a fisherman write about fishing. Simple is better if it’s too intelligent no one seems to get it
    Just my two cents..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, Len. Don’t get poem-shy; this is better than many published poets. 😀

    I recommend reading my post on writing poetry.

    A good place to start is by following the ‘rules’ for a while, just to get the dance steps down into you go full-on interpretive dance. 😉

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    1. Thanks Chelsea. I will definitely read your post on writing poetry. I hate dance analogies. When my wife and I were first married we took ballroom dancing lessons. I gave up after learning the 5th step of 12 in the foxtrot.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I guess it depends on what kind of poetry you want to write. Ok so you like football and could write poems about that but, from reading your blog, I see you are passionate about a lot of other things too. Your voice comes through loud and clear when you write about your dilemma of being a Catholic believer faced with the knowledge that priests sometimes sexually abused children. You could write poems about that. I did recently. https://beinginnatureblog.wordpress.com/2019/02/27/the-light-of-truth/ Whether or not it’s a good poem I have no idea – it came from the heart though and has led to some interesting discussions.

    In the fiction you have writing lately you deal with speculative ideas and imagined worlds. Maybe you could write poetry in the same vein.

    I’m not much good at the techniques of poetry writing so can’t advise you. I like writing haiku and have read a lot of old Japanese haiku and also about the theory behind haiku.
    I also like writing blank verse which I think of as being more a riff on ideas.

    The only advice I can really give is read poetry you like. If you are motivated read some theory too. Go to a second hand shop and see if you can find a book of poems you read at school. Some of those old poems really resonate when you read them again later in life. Also poetry doesn’t have to only words on a page. It can be spoken or sung. Bob Dylan is one of the great poets of our age. Leonard Cohen too. If you read the words of their songs they read like poetry.

    For me poetry is more about feeling than ‘how to’ rules.
    I look forward to reading what you write. 🙂

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    1. Thank you Suzanne for all the wonderful ideas and inspiration you have provided. Gives me a lot to think about. I like your idea of reading Leonard Cohen as a poet rather than listening to him as a singer. I love his style of relating religious imagery from Judeo/Christian tradition to combine with everyday experiences. Peace Suzanne.

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  4. Love this post! Not much for giving advice except I sure liked Dr. Seuss as a kid and as an adult. I like it loose, or obtuse, or even wobbly like a goose. Keep it light or write for fright. Whatever you do will be just right. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha.Ha. I read Dr.Seuss to my children every night and probably bought every book written by him. Loved the new words he arbitrarily made up so they would rhyme. Good reminder that humour never hurts. Thanks Gary.

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  5. One of your readers suggested you start with following “rules” of poetry–that’s great if you aspire to be a classical poet. I suspect you might find it easier to just start writing free verse–don’t worry about rhyme, etc. Once you get comfortable, you’ll probably want to challenge yourself to write some “form poetry”. The main thing is to just jump in and do it–write poetry! It’s good for whatever ails you, I promise! 🙂

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  6. I will not leave you an advice since i am not in any position to give one. Instead, I just want to say that I am also learning, like you, and it has been fun. I like what you have so far and I can’t wait to read more of your writing, poems or fictions or anything really…and learning along with you. 🙂

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  7. I would argue with you, Len, that your prose is quite poetic, at least written so that it flows, and the tone of your work is reflected in your rhythm and word choice. I won’t count myself a skilled poet either, but this WP community is the perfect place to play and create with words.

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    1. Thank you for that Diana. I am trying to learn and am very critical of my own writing. It is very frustrating to have an image and fall short. But with authors like you encouraging us, well, that’s a very good thing to hold on to.

      Liked by 1 person

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