September 30, 2011

Why Busy People Need Poetry

This has been one of the busiest weeks I've had since finishing college. I've gone from Zero to Teacher in five days, taking on three private tutoring jobs in writing and literature. While these are things I absolutely love, the switch from studying English to teaching it is a big one. It's been a week-long crash course in educational methods and curriculum planning. This is what my floor looks like at the moment.

In the midst of these hectic times, I would not survive without a few moments of peace and quiet--green pastures and quiet waters, so to speak. One of those is a little blue book given me by a dear friend for graduation. It is entitled "One Hundred and One Famous Poems" and was published in 1929. I read one or two every night before bed, relaxing in the measured and meaningful words of Longfellow and Emerson.

Surprisingly, though, what jumped out at me this week was the preface, by editor Roy J. Cook. It contains a succinct reminder of why people living in a fast-paced world need poetry. I here reproduce it.

This is the age of science, of steel--of speed and the cement road. The age of hard faces and hard highways. Science and steel demand the medium of prose. Speed requires only the look-the gesture. What need, then, for poetry?

Great need!

There are souls, in these noise-tired times, that turn aside into unfrequented lanes, where the deep woods have harbored the fragrances of many a blossoming season. Here the light, filtering through perfect forms, arranges itself in lovely patterns for those who perceive beauty.

It is the purpose of this little volume to enrich, ennoble, encourage.

 If Mr. Cook said this of the world of 1929, I can't imagine what he'd think of 2011--or of the state of my floor. Yet I found his words true. This week, I understood what "noise-tired times" meant.

Poetry has been my pocket-sized chance to escape into the woods and remember beauty.


  1. Would you share one of these treasures? I'm always amazed that God decided to share Himself with us through language!
    WORDS: so much power, so much beauty... so beautifully subtle, or so sharply stinging...I'm reminded of one of the battles in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: sword and healing balm are both weapons of sorts. Thanks for sharing!

  2. One such newly discovered treasure:

    The Rhodora, by Ralph Waldo Emerson

    In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
    I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
    Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
    To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
    The purple petals fallen in the pool
    Made the black water with their beauty gay;
    Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
    And court the flower that cheapens his array.
    Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
    This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
    Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,
    Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;
    Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
    I never thought to ask; I never knew;
    But in my simple ignorance suppose
    The self-same power that brought me there, brought you.