Rules for Reading Poetry

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1. First, enjoy reading it--laugh, cry, sit for a moment and look out the window.
2. Next, consider what, if anything, it might mean.
3. Then, forget whatever it was you did in step 2.
4. Last, enjoy reading it. See God where He may be seen.

Believe it or not, people once read poetry for the sheer joy of it. With the right poets, it still may be done. For straightforward one goes to Tennyson, Poe, Wordsworth, for convoluted and lovely one strays into Eliot, Hopkins, Browning, Pound, and Arnold. And there are a great many contemporary poets well worth your attention.

But more on that later. First, I'll solicit suggestions from the audience. Yes--you there, in the front row, yes black sweater. . .

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suggestions for what?

Dear Jack,

Perhaps for favorite poets. Perhaps for poets to stay away from.



Like music, personal taste rules. I would recommend The Seashell Anthology of Great Poetry where you can find authors you really like and then read them more deeply.

Personally, I fell in love with Emily Dickinson when I was still a teenager and she has never failed me.

Another item people might share is when a poem affected them in their life. I remember President Reagan, after the Challenger Space Shuttle deaths, quoting from "High Flight" by John Gillespie Magee: "They have slipped the surley bonds of earth, and touched the face of God."

Oh! What a blow those words had on me.

Well, I rather like Gerald Manley Hopkins, but his poetry tends to have a more obvious meaning than Ezra Pound's (whom I also like).

Anything by Jane Kenyon but esp. "Let Evening Come" and "Having It Out With Melancholy"; Micheal O'Siadhail; George Barker's "Sonnet To My Mother"; definitely GMH and Emily Dickinson, Keats, Christina Rossetti could go on but won't...

George Herbert!
Now I'll be quiet....

Hi All,

Oh, people talking about poetry, "I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space. . ."

or perhaps for you sixties fans, "For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky. . ."

Whatever your vision of heaven, this comes close to it for me. Thank you.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 27, 2005 6:09 PM.

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