“I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose,—words in their best order; poetry,—the best words in their best order.” ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge (sourced here)
All throughout my life, I’ve never been able to resist the pull of a good poem. As much as I do enjoy prose, poetry always has a kind of never-fading charm. Not only does it enliven the ear and not merely the eye, it also takes wordsmithing to another level of difficulty, because, though all good poets are also good writers, not all fine writers are poets. Poets are confined in how they communicate their messages, whether those confinements manifest themselves as metrical rhythms, rhymes, or stanza sizes; their very mind needs to think in the reverse of everyday conversation every time they sit to write. Because of that, I believe exceptional poems deserve to be shared and revered as some of the finest works society has ever produced. Here are my favorites.
- “Too Many Daves” by Theodore Geisel—A childhood favorite. Whenever I read this piece to my siblings, they are bound to laugh almost inexhaustibly:)
- “Meditation 1.1” and “The Experience” by Edward Taylor—Taylor is, I believe, one of the most underrated poets of our time. His diction, style, and reverence is so deep and glorious. “Meditation” expresses his wonder and insight on the incarnation, while “The Experience” reveals the marvels he underwent “ev’n in that pray’re/Pour’de out to God over last Sacrament.”
- “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe—Arguably the finest poem an American pen ever wrote. Before you sink into the world of inevitable Nevermore, read “The Raven.”
- “The Song of the Chattahoochee” by Sidney Lanier—Though the lyrics of this allegory can be convicting, “Chattahoochee” is also a masterpiece of audible entertainment.
- “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee—If I had to select my favorite out of modern poetry’s most memorable lines, it would be the last from Magee’s Italian sonnet: “Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.” His passion for flying, his striking depiction of the experience, and the use of the poem in Reagan’s farewell to the space shuttle Challenger’s crew are only some of the reasons I read this brief work over and over again.
- “The Arrow and the Song” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow—If you’d like to see the way I feel about writing, blogging, and whatever other occupation God has seen fit to assign me, read “The Arrow and the Song.” If you’d like to read the lyrics of the most solemn yet beautiful Christmas song, read “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” You will not regret reading either.
- Job 38—This is not only one of the greatest poems, it is also one of my favorite chapters of the Bible. Whenever I feel as if I am getting too prideful, the thirty-eight chapter of Job almost completely extinguishes my arrogance.
- “Never Doubt I Love” from Hamlet—How could I not include Shakespeare (more specifically, how could I not include anything from Hamlet?) This is my favorite Shakespearean poem not written in iambic pentameter; its passion, wit, and early Modern English delights me without fail upon every reading and recitation of the prince’s love letter.
In conclusion, I’d like to share a brief piece I wrote earlier this month, as a poetic reminder of what life and living is all about:)
On Dreams of Heaven
“Lilies lie luscious in precious Paradise,
As the rushing river of God’s love and mercy
Sweeps o’er my sanctified eyes.”
So states this dream of mine
When Earth and Elysium seem too far for
My Father to fashion a bridge between.
Oh, I tire too much of temporal torrents!—
I try so hard to fight them, yet all I have
Are reveries of ransoming reality.
So I look longingly to the day
When death will lose its sting.
When I come home, I know
My simple soul will sing,
“Holy, holy is the King!”
February 24, 2018