April is National Poetry Month. At the beginning of this month I set out to read at least one poem a day. I scoured my shelves for poetry books, and found that I had apparently given most of them away during one or more of my “purging” sessions. I’m sure the library book sale people were happy, and I hope these books found good homes, but I was somewhat regretting giving away a volume of poetry that I bought back when I was in grade school. I was looking forward to re-reading at least some of the poetry in it. Oh well.
The one volume of poetry I did find was The New Pocket Anthology of American Verse from Colonial Days to the Present, edited by Oscar Williams. Copyright 1965 by Washington Square Press. My aunt gave me this book years ago. It used to be her son’s book back when he was in school. He left it in his old room after he moved out and got married. My aunt knew I liked books so she said I could have it. I took it, and it has sat on my bookshelf, unread, for nearly 20 years and 5 moves. Now, if it has sat so long without being read why didn’t I give this one away, you ask? Well, I think it’s because I thought that I “ought” to keep it. It’s one of those books that, at least on some level, subconscious if you will, that I feel “should” be on my bookshelf if I am to be called an educated person. “But if you’ve never read it…”, you say. I know. It’s something I struggle with and one day I’m hoping to get to the point where the only books on my bookshelf are books that I intend to re-read or books that have meant a great deal to me. In the meantime I struggle with this irrational thinking.
But, for this month, I intended to at least read some poetry from this volume. My initial intent was to read a poem a day. That didn’t last for long. Some days I wouldn’t read any (sometimes out of laziness, sometimes because I had other things to do), sometimes I would read three or four or five poems. I tried to not just read poetry by people I’d heard of before, but I wanted to branch out and read poems from poets I have never heard of before. After all, I had not heard of Mary Oliver before I read her poem “The Journey,” in 2001. And, that is one of the most powerful and meaningful poems to me still to this day. So, one never knows….
Unfortunately, in this volume of poetry, reading many of the poems by poets unknown to me just left me with a feeling of “Huh?” None of the new (to me) poets’ poetry spoke to me at all. However, these poems did speak to me:
“To My Dear and Loving Husband,” by Anne Bradstreet. Self-explanatory.
“The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. There was one day in the month of April when it was 84 degrees. My husband and I went to a park with a blanket and a book. There was a lone, shady, untaken spot at the base of a fork in a hiking trail. This spot reminded me of “The Road Not Taken.”
“The Mending Wall,” by Robert Frost. I’m of the mind “Good fences make good neighbors.” Recently I moved into a subdivision where the subject of fences has been quite contentious for years between residents and the Homeowners Association Board. In the April meeting, the Board voted to not allow any new fences. I guess I’ll have to live without a fence…* But, I’m already thinking about what sort of living fences will look nice around our property. We are still allowed hedges and bushes, with Board approval.
*Picture taken April 23, 2011 by Joyce P. Simkin. Path leading from the side yard of my house to the backyard, interrupted by a low fence. Yes, that’s a fence around my yard. The previous owners had a dog. This was to keep the dog in the yard. Despite my “good fences make good neighbors” philosophy coupled with the “no new fences” rule imposed by the Board, my husband and I still intend on removing this fence. We both agree that removal will be an improvement overall.