Poetry is eliciting or explaining feelings in a concise and simple manner.
Anita Barrows, co-author of “Rilke’s Book of Hours”
School turned me off to poetry. I didn’t understand all the rules teachers were trying to get me to follow, and I always seemed to interpret poetry differently than the teacher. Mary Oliver opened my heart to poetry by introducing me to a style of poetry that was earthy, honest, concise, and mystical–her words sang to my soul. Because of her I was able to begin exploring other poets and have found an amazing array of poets and poetry that touch my soul.
As I began a deep spiritual healing 25 years ago, her poems soothed me and deepened my understanding of my need to heal myself from old childhood messages. Certain lines jumped out at me, lines that I sat with and reflected upon for long periods of time. Below are lines from three different poems that became integral to my spiritual journey.
Determined to save the only life I could save (The Journey)
I learn to let the soft animal of my
body love what it loves (Wild Geese)
So I can fully live
my one wild and precious life. ( The Summer Day)
Weaving these three poems together offered me a mosaic of where I’d been and who I was becoming. A product of the tight gender role expectations of the fifties, I realized how much I had abandoned my needs, wants, and self to please others. These lines were a breath of fresh air as I began the long journey “home” to my authentic core.
I will always be grateful to Oliver for waking up my poetic soul.