I have been taking a writing course for beginners, which is offered through The Loft Literary Center, for the last eight weeks, and last night my teacher introduced a new genre: poetry. I have felt some trepidation about all of the genres we've covered in class so far, as I have almost no writing experience, but poetry is especially intimidating for me. I'm entering into this brief overview of poetry with the preconception that I will not be capable of crafting a poem. Perhaps that will be the case, but whatever happens, I think I will enjoy knowing a minuscule amount more about poetry, and I'll enjoy reading the poems that my teacher provides as examples. Last night, my teacher read a Mary Oliver poem, which I have read before on a couple of other blogs. It's a moving poem. Its title isn't exactly fitting given today's weather in the Twin Cities, but the message is seasonless:
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
I think I may start repeating those last two lines to myself as a new mantra.