I’ve written articles during this series on peace and war being over, on being bold, on listening to your heart and following your creative pulse, on working together to make this a better world, and on people who are helping to make this a better world.
Ultimately, a Low Density Lifestyle World is one in which our heart and soul resonate with the poetic lyricism that fuels the universe.
When we feel lighter of body, mind and spirit, that is when we are living a Low Density Lifestyle; and when we feel lighter, we are truly poetry in motion.
With that being said, today’s article is about poetry and is guest written by Susan Jefts.
Susan Jefts, MS, is a poet who lives in Saratoga Springs, NY. She runs writing groups in therapeutic and community settings using poetry as a tool for exploring life issues and healing.
Susan teaches writing and advises students for Empire State College and has had her poetry published in several journals and books regionally and throughout the country, including Big City Lit, Parnassus Literary Journal, The Hudson River Anthology and Metroland, among others.
Her website is www.saratogapoetryroom.com.
Meeting a Poem
First, something catches. The movement of a word on your tongue or a spark from its flight through your throat. Often it’s not the one you’d expect, not what you were thinking about or where you were going that day. But there it is, like beautiful music or a call from a cherished friend. And so you listen.
To know what a poem is about for you, look to the images that most speak to you, the ones that linger in your ear or on your tongue, or hover in your soul. It is after all images that feed the soul. And it is in metaphor, the heart of poetry, where psyche (soul) and soma (body) meet. Metaphor comes from a Greek word meaning to transport or carry across. We can be transported by poetry, if we are willing, to new levels of experience and insight, places where the soul and spirit are more closely involved.
The following poem How it is by Peter Everwine, is one I’ve had in my favorite poem folder for years. I knew upon first reading, that this poem said far more than its ten short lines and that I would return to it again and again. I find it an especially rich antidote for a busy life, as it speaks to the reader of what returning means, of what actually being in our life means.
This is how it is —
One turns away
and walks out into the evening.
There is a white horse on the prairie, or a river
that slips away among dark rocks.
One speaks, or is about to speak,
not that it matters.
What matters is this —
It is evening.
I have been away a long time.
There is a strong presence from the start of the poem of something beyond words and feeling. And a strong sense of seeing, a kind that only evening allows, as it is a time of day for nuance, both visually and emotionally. What is described is a white horse on the prairie. But right next to that is a river “that slips away among dark rocks.” Right away, we are presented with contrasting images and a sense of paradox, with the first image suggesting stillness and permanence and the second one, movement and impermanence.
Soon we know we are not in a world of ordinary language but it feels very real; the language is open and encompassing, and we are pulled into its richness and wholeness. Good poetry is like that; it allows room for everything. And as in many poems, there is more going on here than first meets the eye. Listen for what is going on for you. Is it the image of the white horse that speaks to you, the dark rocks, or the river that slips away? Perhaps it is the “turning away,” or a subtle feeling of the poem that speaks to you. What is it about that image? Pay attention to the ones that speak to you, as they are likely speaking to your soul.
While there may be a sense of leave taking in the poem, there is also a sense of opening to new awareness. The speaker at first appears to be turning away from something and finding escape or solace in nature. But soon we see that he is really returning. Re-turning to a kind of purity, to something beyond words and images. Returning to what is essential.
And in the midst of all this turning, there is a sense of embracing and of being embraced. “I have been away a long time,” he says. We almost wonder and know, both at the same time where he has been and what he is returning to. The specifics of those places will vary for each of us, as will the messages they carry. Where have you been, and what are you returning to?