Robert Frost makes us feel beauty, then move on as in his poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” because he knows there are promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep. He has already reminded us of the road not taken. Alfred Lord Tennyson reminds us of what it must have been like for Ulysses to try to retire after his war experiences and that remarkable and horrific 20-year trip back home. Do our veterans still want “To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield” even though they no longer have the strength of youth?
We Hoosiers are proud of our writers, but I ask you how many parents do you think read “Little Orphant Annie” to their offspring? Shel Silverstein is fabulous, as is Dr. Seuss, as is Maurice Sendak, etc., etc., etc. But have we lost out with the delight of Riley’s, “The Gobbleuns ‘at gits you Ef you don’t watch out!”
There are narrative poems, telling memorable stories, like Longfellow’s “Paul Revere” and his “Evangeline.” I remember reading that to a class one day, and when I came to the part where Evangeline after the long search finds her lover wounded but still alive and calls out “Gabriel!” and there was the captain of our basketball team furtively wiping a tear from his eye.
You never know when a poem you memorized or just recall will reappear and help you live a special moment. But you have to become familiar with the poet’s picture first. Give yourself a treat. If you didn’t get inducted into the Poetry Lovers’ Society as a child in school (hey, teachers, don’t allow that to happen, please), it is never too late to learn the power of the written word, whether it’s about who has seen the wind or the bird saying “Nevermore.”
Have a lovely time.
Betty E. Stein is a retired teacher and resident of Fort Wayne.