20 April 2012


It's rare that I truly appreciate a piece of poetry. It could be because I'm really picky, but I think it's more that I'm not well-enough trained in most poetic genres to be able to identify and appreciate excellence in them. Maybe someday I'll take a poetry class. I think there's a lot out there to appreciate that I'm oblivious to.

(sidenote: I feel quite vehemently that it's okay to end a sentence with a preposition. The rule saying otherwise is dumb.)

I read this poem today, and on first and second readings felt a glimmer of appreciation for it. I'm submitting it to you for your consideration. I need to let it simmer on the back-burner of my brain for a few weeks before I decide whether I really like it or not. Tomorrow I'll offer you my favorite poem I've ever read, which has thus far stood the test of time for three years and shows no signs of giving up its throne for the foreseeable future.

But here's the one from today (the second-to-last line is what really won my heart):

Starlings in Winter
by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can't imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.
Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard, I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

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