To be a poetry lover, one does not have to love all poetry, just as a dog lover does not have to love all dogs. One merely has to love some poetry, perhaps only one poem, perhaps only part of one poem. For National Poetry Month's "Poem In Your Pocket Day," a number of local poetry lovers have contributed poems, or lines of poetry, that are especially meaningful to them, words they share with all of us so that we might appreciate the energy that accompanies them, so that we, too, might understand what it is to be a poetry lover.
Recently I heard for the first time Robert F. Kennedy's speech on the night of Martin Luther King's assassination. Kennedy quoted some lines from Aeschylus that are simply beautiful and I carry them with me in a notebook I keep in my briefcase. I'd challenge anyone to find a more succinct expression of the paradox of suffering that becomes joy or of the complexity of the human soul.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Robert Kennedy slightly misquoted Aeschylus' lines from "Agamemnon," but in so doing, provided a poignant and fitting memorial for Dr. King and our nation.
Even in our sleep,
pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God.
From the poem "Jack's Madsong" in A Book of Proverbs by Lewis Turco:
At last we know what it is,
This thing that we call living --
It's a trudge up a mount,
A swig at a fount,
And a slide down the cliffside raving.
From Robert Browning's "Rabbi Ben Ezra"
These lines speak to a fearless passion for the future, as we are not to measure life in time alone.