Poetry is a great example of Aristotle’s concept that “The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts.” Individual words have their meanings but when they are strung together using cadence and rhyme to form a poem, the “whole” is definitely greater. Poems connect the head to the heart, ideas to emotions, and our senses to places. If you have a book of poems, this is a great time to pull it off the shelf. If not, like most everything, you can find poems online.
The American Poetry Society has a great website to explore. Their current and timely theme is called “Reading in the Dark”. They asked poets to share the poems they return in hard times —"to find solace, perspective, or even a moment of delight.” The Poetry Foundation is another organization with a website worth exploring.
Poems are meant to be read or recited out loud and often become more meaningful with repetition as different aspects open up over time. I still remember how impressed I was when a friend’s father recited a poem (of several verses) from memory, one summer night on the porch. I don’t remember much about the poem, but I do remember how it touched every one of us. Being able to recite (even a short poem) from memory still seems like a good goal. I have two short poems (one seven lines, one 12 lines) that I am hoping to commit to memory this month.
Both of the websites listed above (American Poetry Society & Poetry Foundation) have audio links so you can hear poems recited. Ironically, I first found the poetry website called “The Slowdown” before the covid-19 pandemic. Even though we have no choice now but to slowdown, a daily poem does add something positive to our day. With 5 minutes of audio, Tracy K. Smith (former Poet Laureate of the U. S.) presents her thoughts on a subject and then presents the day’s poem that has inspired her thoughts (or vice versa?). This is a time “ripe for poetry”. What is your favorite poem? Will you commit it memory?