Save a Stanza – Adopt a Poet Today

I have been enjoying this excellent and comprehensive site quite a bit lately, gorging myself on Dickinson and Burns and Keats and Shelley and Byron and Tennyson and Poe and Plath and Browning and more Dickinson, etc.

It’s easy to browse, for poetry nerds and novices alike. It has biographies and photos and articles and audio of poems.

This is perhaps the time, dear reader, when I should confess my secret.

I love words…to an absurd degree, really.

I will sift through the available word options in my head until I find the word that has the most nuanced meaning, the best sound and texture and color. I will select this word with the utmost care, garb it in all its gleaming perfection of context, and then gently release it to the world like a baby sparrow into the sky…where it promptly face-plants onto the pavement.

“What?” is usually the response, though I also enjoy the frequent “huh?” or blank stare. Words, the basis for human communication, tend to be useless when seldom used. I will continue the fight though, blindly blithe in my optimism that one day I will speak and be understood.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post which is to champion poet adoption. Perhaps you love Carl Sandburg or Langston Hughes, or maybe “Howl” stirs you or “Ode to a Grecian Urn”. This site is run by a non-profit, the Academy of American Poets; they have¬†developed an ingenious fund-raising idea.

You can select your favorite poet and for a mere $30/year (roughly $0.08 cents a day), your name and city of origin will be listed on that poet’s biography page. Now how to narrow down?

I can only adopt one this year, but doubtless more will call out to me. The poetry books on my shelf glare at me in mute entreaty – how shall I choose?

The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O, hark, O, hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O, sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying,
Blow, bugles; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river;
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow forever and forever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

-The Splendor Falls, Lord Alfred Tennyson

And in her head, she danced the Valse all night long

Sometimes I can’t bear the lack of whimsy in the world. I can’t bear the funny looks at my funny words, words like ‘mellifluous’ and ‘myrmidon’ and ‘mandibular’. Nor should I fail to mention the endless sneers at my swoons, mocks at my sensitivities, and the daily careless picks at the well-worn sweater of my heart.

When I am denied the opportunity for blitheness, I get truculent (hah, there’s another one!).

Why can’t I splash in puddles? What’s wrong with wearing plum colored tights with a black work dress? I like my nerdy knee socks and my disintegrating sneakers. Why can’t I spend the better part of my day off staring at the ceiling, picking at my cuticles, and teasing my cat with a bit of discard Christmas ribbon. Why shouldn’t I cry when I want to, for PMS, for love lost, for the cruelty in the world, for the endless picky-nit choices of adulthood? For god’s sake, do you want me to grow up?

I want to be the Ballerina Grandma, the Artistic Director, the memorable Author, the limpid Starlet, the Anti-Styrofoam Crusader, Super Secret Spy Girl, Jane Austen, Audrey Hepburn, Amelia Earhart, the lady in the plum tights, the oversensitive girl, the owner of the tombstone’s epitaph: ‘She had one hell of a life.’

Is that so much to ask, World?

/”Yana” by Sergey Smirnov / [repost – ed.]