Monday, April 12, 2010

On Poetry (Or, My thing for poets named Robert)

I’ve written many poems in my life, but I’m not a poet. What I mean to say is that I see myself as a writer, a storyteller…not a poet. But I’d like to take this time to share with you two poems that inspired me at different times in my youth. They’ve always stuck with me, for very different reasons.

The impetus for writing this blog today is that I’ve just come across a child’s book of poetry (amongst the many “outgrown” books in my son’s home library), and this book is on the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson. It has the first of my favorite poems, the one I fell in love with circa age seven, when I appreciated the theme for the simple childhood fancy it was: The Swing.

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside –

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown –
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Reading that poem now, I think I also like it because of its metaphor for life. Most people compare life to a roller coaster, but in my experience, life is more like a swing – with the beautiful moments never lasting long enough and the terrible moments thankfully disappearing just as quickly. Back and forth I go, up and down, seeing great expansive vistas and then small comforting sights, again and again, on my swing of life.

The second poem of my heart is by another Robert – Robert Frost. I read it in S.E. Hinton’s book, The Outsiders, when I was about twelve years old. By that age, I had become a bit too introspective for my own good and had already developed a heightened sense of sentimentality for the passage of time. So this poem touched me: Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Need I say more? Even today, reading these words makes my throat tighten up as I get all sappy realizing that my babies haven’t been babies for many years now. I also realize how similar Stevenson and Frost’s themes actually are, which is probably what has cemented them so firmly in my memory.

This leads me to share with you one final poem, which I wrote in high school after being inspired by Frost’s above-mentioned poem. I copied the meter but made this one my own: The Dreamer Knows No Sadness (by Wendy Minsker aka Wendy Ramer).

As the dreamer wastes her day,
Reality far away,
She realizes not her crime
In wasting precious time.
So many things she’ll miss,
Caught in her world of bliss,
Ignoring the truth and madness,
The dreamer knows no sadness.

I still love this poem for all the innocence and wisdom I tried to portray when I wrote it in the heat of adolescence. In one way, I am that dreamer. Sadly enough, in another way I am not, letting pragmatism and reality steal from me what could be beautifully blissful moments.

And sometimes that part of me really brings me down. Because as I swing through my life, I am constantly reminded that nothing gold can stay.

For those who read On Truth or Lies (4/1/10), I just found the picture of me as the temporary maid-of-honor. Check the post to see the annoyed bride and me.


  1. I love those Roberts as well. Lovely choices.

    I enjoyed your teenage Wendy poem. I love the idea that being a dreamer evades reality. It is indeed innocent, sweet.

    Gold just has different hues, moments of high polish. It stays, if we look at it from the right perspective.

    Thanks for sharing poetry with us today. :o)

    Have a wonderful Monday.

  2. Poetry is difficult for me. It's hard for me to read without getting sing-songy.

    But I do love Dreamer Wendy.

    And I love the way my stomach jumps while swinging.

    Enjoy the ride.

  3. "Gold just has different hues, moments of high polish. It stays, if we look at it from the right perspective." - Thanks to Lola for this lesson on seeing things differently. Just one more reason to love the blogging process.

  4. awww lovely post and lovely poems.

    thanks so much for sharing!!

  5. Wendy - this is beautiful!!! What a wonderful post... I have bookmarked this one for repeat reading!

    Oh & by the way I believe my background woes are complete... *crossesfingers*

    Thank you ever so much for visiting the Kingdom & for swimming through the craziness of my dust this morning ;o)

    Visit MY Kingdom Anytime

  6. Lovely poems and inspiration! I love poetry enough to know I should never write it. While I do have a passion for reading good poetry I know better than to attempt it myself :-)

  7. A most loverly post, Wendy. The swing poem particularly struck me. I have spent untold hours pushing my daughters on swings. (It's one of those things I hope to find out in the great beyond on some big tote board of "Your Earthly Stats.") But I love, love, love swinging myself, so I never minded doing it. And I think you're right about life swinging between extremes. It does always seem that there's always too much going on or not enough going on!

  8. These poems are beautiful. Love your original poem! I write poetry from time to time; especially after reading some of the masters' work. So inspiring!

  9. Love it. I'm having a "nothing gold can stay" moment with my baby getting older. Sigh.

  10. I loved RL Stevenson's poems when I was little. I had A Child's Garden of Verses and I think the poem you quote may have been in it.

    As to which poems have stayed with me... I may use that as an inspiration for a blog post!

    By the way, thank you for visiting my blog and I love your background!

  11. The Swing did, in fact, come from A Child's Garden of Verses ;-)

  12. Aww, I love the swing analogy. I've never thought of it like that before, but you're right.

    I'm still laughing about the roach though. I had to tell my mom that story the other day and we both cracked up.