Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Lines that Dance in Your Head

From the blog site, Poetry Thursday, comes this prompt:
"Share a favorite line of poetry. You might decide to explain why the line resonates, why it speaks to you...you might want to let your favorite line spark your own poem. A favorite line written by someone else becomes the springboard for a new poem."

It is funny that the poems that come to mind immediately, without hesitation, are from Yeats:

"I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree..." (The Lake Isle of Innisfree, 1890)

and

"When you are old and grey and full of sleep.
and nodding by the fire, take down this book..."(When You are Old, 1892)

It is not like I quote him often. In fact, it is difficult for me to recite much poetry from memory. But there is something there, deep in me that I think: Yeats. It takes me back to college and the spring term that I took this English Poets' class. I don't remember much about the class. I do remember the sitting outdoors and discussing this fine literature; being horribly intimitated by the professor. And yet the intimidation I felt did not lead me away this particular era of poetry.

I love these two particular poems. I love the rythm of Yeats' words read aloud. There is such a cadence in his poetry. I have always been fairly strong willed. The inner independence alluded to in Innisfree always appealed to me. Tonight, rereading "When You are Old" I have to laughed because now I am there; old and full of sleep.

It is funny how the world works. I went to the college that had one of the greatest poets of all time, William Stafford, teaching there. But I missed his undergraduate classes. It wasn't until I graduated from Lewis and Clark, that I discovered what I had been missing. He was a quiet teacher, one who gently led you into writing.

Here's a one of my poems, inspired by a line from a William Stafford's poems:

When To Say Good-bye

"Our days together were the ones we already had."
--William Stafford

Looking at her
lying on the kitchen floor. My eyes
watching, waiting
for movement of her wavy, black fur.
Is she breathing?
Barely.
Will I know when it's time?

A relentless beggar
every meal at my feet
unaware pheasant season has begun
Reminds cats, she's "The Queen" but
no longer howls at passing sirens
Remembers the signal for car rides then
wandering
forgets her way

Sitting on the kitchen floor
Hand resting on her fur
Feeling the rattle in her rising breath
Noticing its shallowness
Smelling her age
A centenarian were she human
Companion loyal all the years
Her eyes speak
It's time.

(written for Ashleigh, my 16+ year old cocker spaniel. 1996)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I loved reading quotes from different poets...
Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem...

Cheers!

Anonymous said...

How very lovely, and sad. What a wonderful tribute to your loyal companion. Thanks for sharing.

Mike Mc said...

I am also one of the many touched by Stafford.

At your first line I thought of a person lying on the floor, shows how my mind works. By the end I was caught up in the quandary. Nice job.

Anonymous said...

That line from Stafford is beautiful, and I can definitely see how it inspired you. Your own poem is so sincere, so quiet, my heart is broken just reading it.