I’ve decided to count down to Thinksgiving, and take a moment each day to think about things I’m thankful for.
Number Two: Poetry.
There once was a poem for Thanksgiving
About a turkey, absolved and forgiving.
Despite all his pluck
That bird’s outta luck,
And in death he’ll be stuffed for the living!
Is there anything better than a sappy, ignorant scrap of doggerel to lift our spirits? Sure there is, but I can’t think of it at the moment. A good poem, though, unlike the above, can stop us in our tracks. Poets at their best make us hear the sounds of the babbling brook rushing over the rocks past us, make us smell the decay of the old building as we see the foundations crumbling over the course of a lifetime, make us believe not only that ravens can talk but that, there but for the grace, it is ourselves they would address. The poet’s job is not just to show you, not merely to tell you, but to bring you there, willy nilly, whether you really wanted to go or not.
I have seen the frost-bitten skies of the Yukon through the words of Robert Service. I have heard the siren call of the East in the temple bells of Mandalay, and that of the shores of Loch Katrine in the songs of Walter Scott. I have been a rooster over at Free Range Poetry, once in a while, once in a while.
I have seen the best of minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, and for this, I am thankful.