Emily Dickinson’s “One and One — are One” deals with the anger of a broken relationship. It seems darkly comic to me, but its end is perfectly serious. I do feel the poem’s narrator is on the way to letting go.
Anna Akhmatova’s “Everything Is Plundered” praises her countrymen for their resilience, their hope, during the worst of trials. Her thoughts and language are beautiful, but I wonder what ultimately grounds her vision. I’ve seen love of the particular taken too far quite a bit recently, when I haven’t been hammered with it myself.
Yeats’ “The Living Beauty” initially seems to be about abandoning romance as one gets older. That isn’t quite right, though. His narrator draws content from the most beautiful statues, archetypes for beauty and piety. To be more precise, those statues project a beauty which only appears momentarily. The living beauty doesn’t belong to human lovers, on my reading, as beauty itself has a life of its own.
I took Dickinson’s “A Man may make a Remark” as a poem to memorize for dealing with difficult people. They may make remarks, but you shouldn’t let it set you off. Powder exists in Charcoal – / Before it exists in Fire is her key advice: you can and should recognize your triggers and work to eliminate them. This is strange advice, I know, when so many want to project anger to keep power, whether over their family, their friends, their institutions.
I used Michael Dransfield’s “Flying” as an excuse to talk about Skyrim. I know, there’s nothing more enticing than me talking about video games.
Jane Hirshfield’s “Late Prayer” spoke to me about a world that when given tenderness, projects it back. I didn’t fully realize how much tenderness depends on appreciating one’s own capacity to feel pain.
Finally, I was honored to review Isabella Mori’s “A Bagful of Haiku.” In the review, I go into detail about two of her poems, and I hope you will read her work and what I’ve written and support her. She’s taken the practice of poetry very seriously and there’s a lot to learn from her approach to craft.