Wednesday, December 13, 2006


(I don't know. Do you?)

Poetry (or "peotry", as I see it all the time on message boards!) sometimes looks like "other" or "all of the above" choice in multiple choice endeavors.

I can't give you much of a crash course here, but I do want to recommend that if you write, and even if your specialty is hard-boiled murder or battle-focused science fiction, you need to read some poetry to understand the rhythm and beauty of the language.

But I can give you links to some of the best poetry I have found. What are your favorites? If you don't have a favorite, maybe you aren't enjoying enough poetry.

What He Thought by Heather McHugh

Musee des Beaux Arts by W. H. Auden

I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great by Stephen Spender

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare

Now go find some good poetry on your own – and let me know your favorites. I like the Modern and Post-Modern poets. I like economy of words, impact and unforgettable turns of phrases. What do you like?


Well, if re-reading my favorite poems isn't a Beautiful Thing, I don't know what is!

I saw a remarkable sight at the bird sanctuary a couple of days ago – I still can't quite believe it. Hundreds of black and white egrets or cranes rose up into a sort of giant spiral above me and wound through the sky for about ten minutes before flying away. I could see them so clearly, their long beaks, feet and legs tucked up into their underbellies, the black tips of their wings, feathers articulated.

The sight of my Dear Husband as they wheeled him to his room after his surgery yesterday – he was pale and wan, his silver hair shining on the pillow, but he was breathing and the surgery was a success. He gets to come home this weekend. Now *that's* a beautiful thing!

The Drive Home

It's cloudy and pale, not the usual sunny

and I'm taking a break from the work on my table

I've listened with interest to all of your funny

and sweet conversation at least as I'm able

Today I'm not working, well not on my writing

And I've finished the work that I do here for money

I'll drive home today and hope for a sighting

of egrets and owls, of skunks or a bunny

I live in the suburbs where one of the features

is an abundance of feathered and furry

two-legged, four-legged, winged great creatures

at the edge of my sightlines, if I don't hurry

I see them in trees at the side of the roads

in glades and in meadows, in forests, in glens

rabbits and squirrels and lizards and toads

And maybe a deer or some sheep in their pens

And I'll feel the sharp breeze as it loosens the berry

And I feel the sharp rain as it spatters my face

And I'll see all the creatures the suburbs can carry

And I know as I see them the meaning of grace.

Kate Thornton 2006


Bernita said...

There are so many beautiful poems.
I agree entirely about rhythm and language. And as examples of how to convey images and emotion succinctly.

His coming home is the most beautiful thing of all.
I have been there.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes for your husband's speedy recovery.

Kate Thornton said...

Bernita - thank you so much

Sonnjea b - thank you, too.

I spoke to him on the phone today - he's doing a bit better and had his first excruciating physical therapy. Can't wait for him to come home!

Anonymous said...

Ray Bradbury said once that writers should read some good poetry every day because good poetry crystallizes thought...unfortunately he didn't define good poetry either!

I prefer rhythm and meter to freeverse (tennis without a net, after Frost)and older to newer, so it appears we on on opposite sides if the spectrum, :-}

I couldn't open your first two links, for some unknown reason.

I agree with you. Poetry helps writers to think of newer, fresher metaphorical clusterbomblets and not forget that even prose can have rhythm.

Praying for your hubby's full and speedy recovery: and putting Dear Husband in a bold font with capitals is just ineffable.

Kate Thornton said...

Thank you, Zonk!
I'll check out those first two links - they are to a site hosted at CalPoly Pomona University.

Kate Thornton said...

Links are fixed! Sorry - I had deleted one letter in each link - all better now!

Anonymous said...

And now code poems

Kate Thornton said...

Wow Meika - Wild! Thanks for the link!

writtenwyrdd said...

Justice Stewart trying to define pornography for the US Supreme Court: "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it."

That pretty much sums it up for me, too.

And best wishes for speedy recovery and smooth sailing, too.