I’m lousy at reading poetry

I really am – lousy, that is. I never read poetry. I don’t know anything about it so even if I wanted to read some poetry, I wouldn’t know where to start, who to read. It’s not that I don’t want to read it. It’s just that life is short, I love fiction more and … a lot of other excuses. But once in a while, I stumble upon something that just really strikes a chord in me in a way that only poetry can. I did that tonight. While reading Jonathan Carroll’s blog (found here), I read this poem by Rainer Marie Rilke. It’s called ‘Entrance’, in this edition it’s translated by Dana Gioia – and it’s beautiful.

Whoever you are: step out of doors tonight,
out of the room that lets you feel secure.
Infinity is open to your sight.
Whoever you are.
With eyes that have forgotten how to see
from viewing things already too well-known,
lift up into the dark a huge, black tree
and put it in the heavens: tall, alone.
And you have made the world and all you see.
It ripens like the words still in your mouth.
And when at last you comprehend its truth,
then close your eyes and gently set it free.

3 thoughts on “I’m lousy at reading poetry

  1. I think you’re right Connetta. But I also think it’s because of a story my father told me when I was a child. He would often tell about how when he was studying to become a teacher, they had analyzed something and then he – or one of his class mates – called the author and asked if they had analyzed it correctly. The author became completely silent and after a while said: Well, I guess so – I’ve never thought of it that way. My father’s point was that it was a waste of time to analyze stuff and at the time I took that to heart. I think that’s also part of my problem with poetry because you have to analyze and dive deeper for it to be more than just pretty words that sound good together.
    Of course now I know better and for me it’s one of the strength of literature – and poetry – that it can mean different things to different people.
    But I’ve decided to dive in so I’ve bought ‘A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the best of Rainer Maria Rilke’ and plan on reading it each day the rest of the year. I also read a poem by Chinua Achebe this morning (‘Vultures’) and liked it so maybe this will actually become the year where I learn to appreciate poetry!

  2. I agree with Connetta, not all poets write things we can relate to, i know that for myself i have to connect with a poem to truly like it. most poetry today doesn’t rhyme and one tends to get lost while reading. If we don’t have a taste for it, its hard to swallow.

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