Poetry is a writer’s best friend. It’s a breathtaking art form where a writer’s thoughts are crystalised into the most explicit and sentient form, conveying the intense emotion and sublime imagery of an experience. I’ve found when writing, that reading poetry is a great way to ignite my imagination.
I remember the first time I was in awe of poetry. It was in Grade 11, studying the poems of young Australian poet, Michael Dransfield, when I read his description of the arm of a heroin user:
Needle craters of old hallucinations
And then his frustration with his own inarticulateness.
You realise that what you taste now in the mornings is not so much blood as the failure of language.
From poetry, we learn about rhythm and rhyme, metaphor and eloquence. And at times we learn that try as we might, we simply can not say it better than the piece we read for inspiration. And so we bow to greatness.
Think of Four Weddings and a Funeral and W H Auden:
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone
And in A River Runs Through It – when the Maclean family, trying to come to terms with Paul’s death, turns to Wordsworth:
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
Right there is one of the key’s to great poetry. Aside from being timeless and universal is its immeasurable source of solace.
Like the McLeans in a River Runs Through It, the Daltons in Seldom Come By were a family that read and enjoyed and talked about poetry, art and music. Fortunately, for them, they had the means. And so through Seldom Come By I wanted to includes elements of some of the poems, they loved – and incidentally so do I.
So you will see snippets of:
The English Romantic poet, Wordsworth:
And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused
The Latin poet, Catullus:
unless I love you to distraction and hereafter
am prepared to love you continually throughout the years
as much as he who can love you most,
America’s father of free verse, Walt Whitman (pictured):
We two boys together clinging,
The world below the brine
And more, but I don’t want to spoil things for you.
And of course, famous Canadian war poet, John McCrae who is a minor character, a friend of Samuel’s brother Matthew, in Seldom Come By,
I hope you enjoy the odd sprinkling of poetry in Seldom Come By and that you too find solace in it, if you need it.