Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Literary Blog Hop December 2-5

The Literary Blog Hop is sponsored by Ingrid and Connie at The Blue Bookcase.  Head on over there to read about the blog hop, get the button and link your blog to the hop.  Each week bloggers answer a different question, and the conversation has been interesting:  for me, this hop is not so much about gaining followers as it is about finding new blogs, checking in with old favorites, and having an exchange of ideas.  This week's question is:

What is your favorite poem and why?

Impossible.  Please don't ask me to choose one favorite poem--that is like having to choose a favorite child, or a favorite student.  It can't be done without excessive pain; it can't be done at all.

That said, here is the poem I carry in my head, my notebook, and my pocket:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;--
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.  Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing in this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

William Wordsworth

This Wordsworth sonnet captures what I feel about the life of the mind and heart and spirit versus the life of commerce (getting and spending) and the whole business-like realm of life that sits on the surface of what is important and true like a deadly sugar icing, enticing but ultimately bad for you.

Also in my notebook:  "Bright Star" by John Keats.  And I love this one:  "My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains/My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk"--Keats.  In my brain:  Sonnet 116.  In my notebook--this one by Wendell Berry:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Other poets who mean a great deal to me, in no particular order:  Rilke, Adrienne Rich, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Dorianne Laux, Charles Bukowski, Eavan Boland.

I'm absolutely positive I have left out a poem or poet vital to my soul.  Chalk it up to the anxiety elicited by making such a choice.  What about you Gentle Readers?  Do you have a favorite poem or poet?  Do you carry a poem in your pocket, your wallet, your notebook, your brain?


Red said...

I like the first quatrain of that Wordsworth sonnet. I haven't read that one before.

My favorite poem might be Sonnet 116, though as me again later and I may change my mind.

Bellezza said...

You open my eyes to new poems, and the doors to poets I've yet unread. Thanks for the explanation of why they're meaningful to you, too; I whole-heartedly agree with "the life of the mind and heart and spirit versus the life of commerce (getting and spending) and the whole business-like realm of life that sits on the surface of what is important and true like a deadly sugar icing, enticing but ultimately bad for you." Glad we're in this together!

@parridhlantern said...

Understand your dilemma, it was my question & it sounded so easy, when I. tossed it out with little thought, then tried to break it down to one, couldn't & the more blogposts I read the more I realise how many I could have added, like keats & Wordsworth.

gautami tripathy said...

You chose two of my favourite poets. I love these both!

Being a poet, I can’t imagine my life without poetry. I live and breath it. I have loved to read a lot of poets and poetry over the years and still find something new every day. I have gone through phases liking, poets, and moving over to the the next. So many yet to read.

Here is my Literary Blog Hop post!

bibliophiliac said...

@Red--picking just one poem is very difficult. The first quatrain of the Wordsworth poem just stays with me....
@Bellezza--that line about "getting and spending" seems almost prescient. The poem says what I feel better than I could ever say it myself.

bibliophiliac said...

@parrish lantern--thanks for your wonderful question--grrr--who can pick just one poem? I totally left out Whitman and Dickinson, and Frost!
@gautami--poetry is essential, isn't it? I can't wait to read your post.

BookQuoter said...

When I saw this week's question this morning, I actually thought of you, and that it would be impossible for you to choose. So you're answer brought a smile on my face this afternoon when i finally checked your answer. I love both poems. Thanks.

BookQuoter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bibliophiliac said...

@BookQuoter--you know me too well! ;)

Toni Wi said...

ack, love that wordsworth poem! and keats! le awesum XD

Olivia said...

I'm so pleased you chose Wendell Berry as well. I love the poem you chose. I think it's wonderful that two bloggers chose him!

Melody said...

What a nice post (esp. your last paragraph). I'm excited about all the new poets I'm finding on this hop. Wendell Berry has definitely caught my interest.

@parridhlantern said...


All poetry is about
five hundred degrees centigrade

Poets, though,
differ in combustibility.
Those soaked in spirits
catch fire first.

What would they be without their disease.
The disease is their health.

They burn, straw dummies,
They don't read Nietzsche
what doesn't kill you
tempers you.

They smolder.
They sizzle.
And yet, only a bad yogi
burns his feet
on hot coals.

Miroslav Holub.

bibliophiliac said...

@toni--thanks for stopping by!
@Olivia--thanks, I loved your post on the Wendell Berry poem

bibliophiliac said...

@parrish lantern--thanks for the beautiful poem--it is entirely new to me!