The American poet Emily Dickinson, though shrinking from offering a definition of poetry, once confided in a letter, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
One poet called a poem “a thought, caught in the act of dawning.” Another said a poem is a means of bringing the wind in the grasses into the house. Yet another stated, even more enigmatically: “Poetry is a pheasant disappearing in the brush.” (from National Endowment for the Arts website)
Poetry can elicit very difficult subject matter, and draw a direct connection to the reader. “Imaginary gardens with real toads in them.” That was how Marianne Moore captured it in an early draft of her poem, “Poetry”. Poems often draw us into complex concepts through a side door; suddenly, we realize where we are, but aren’t sure how we got there, and have the sensation that we are the first ones ever to do so! In the end, my favorite poems are short and seemingly simple, but leave us thinking harder, feeling more deeply, and asking harder questions that we did before.
Okay, here’s a different perspective on this Sunday before Easter, kicking off Holy Week. I find Christianity to be both impossibly difficult (e.g. doctrine of the Trinity), and sometimes starkly simple (e.g. feed the hungry). To me there is an element of poetry here, and maybe poetry is just what we need to delve into our faith in this holiest of weeks before the resurrection. We’ll see.
Here are three poems written about Palm Sunday.
The smell of church reminds me of my childhood
but over the years, the priest becomes a foolish man. I’ve pondered over my faith for so long.
Sometimes I reach into my conscious and pull out steaming fistfuls of pop culture like, I watched Rosemary’s Baby on Saturday. Was God dead in the 50s?
Not nearly as much as he is now.
Today was Palm Sunday, and I felt like a baby, so naked in the desert sand.
Delicate church, how do you reel me in?
Kyra Rae, Apr 17, 2011
my dog in
a palm frond
disposed of it
it was then
its a carpet
for a King’s
its not for
dog and I
James Bradley McCallum, Mar 22, 2013
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
G. K. Chesterton, 1927
After you have read these a few times, see if you feel tugged by something written…Read that part again. Come this week with those lines in mind, and we’ll take the discussion from there. And then we will take time to consider how we will wrap up this Lenten season, to ready ourselves for Easter. Oh, it’s not too late.
See you Sunday at 9:14 in the Library. Stay warm.
PS don’t forget church clean up – we need your help! Saturday morning from 9-12. Bring gloves, gardening tools, and layers. There will be a light lunch following, thanks to our very own Sheila Franklin!