El albergue

El albergue

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The poetry of life

Many people consider poetry to be a dead art form in the modern world. After all, nobody really reads it, right? I myself don’t tend to read it that often just because I generally prefer something along the lines of Dickens or Austen, although my mother tells me that I loved it when I was little. However, I am so frequently amazed at the moving poetry of life as it occurs around me, the sheer beauty inherent in so many acts of living and being. Really, poetry still exists.  It is alive and breathing.  It follows us everywhere we go; all we have to do is open our eyes and see it and allow it to move us.

Sometimes, life’s poetry comes out in actual words, in lines of deep meaning and emotion. For example, during an icebreaker activity at a recent Bible study, in which we had to create sentences out of the random assortment of words we pulled from a box, one friend wrote this simple phrase: “El pájaro negro suena al campo.” (“The black bird sounds like the field.”) Maybe to those of you more scientific and literal minded, such a sentence might seem like mere nonsense.  And yet for me, there is something in those six (or seven) words that thrills through my inner mind, something elusive that my spirit identifies with but can’t quite define, something that speaks of whole worlds residing in the simple song of a simple creature of the earth. Read those words again. Do you see what I mean?

Of course, if words of poetry aren’t for you, there’s all of Creation waiting just outside to astound you with beautifully complex poems of form and movement.  A couple weeks ago, I decided to rest by the side of the river in Toledo as I waited for my parents and aunt and uncle to tour the cathedral (I was tired and had already seen it). As I sat on a bench at the top of the cliffs dropping down to the water, my mind releasing the worries of the day and soaking in the peace and calm of the water below, a flock of birds suddenly took off from the lower slopes of the opposite cliffs. There were hundreds of them swirling about in flurries and floating to and fro. I looked down at them from above and felt like I was watching Nature’s soul dance about in sheer joy, swooping intricately in patterns I could not follow as it gave full vent to its passion, heedless of who could see.

Then, sometimes poetry comes out of something unexpected. Like a movie you go to see with your roommate that turns out to be poignantly beautiful and heart breaking. A couple weeks ago, Kels and I went to the little theater across the street to see a modern interpretation of the classic Snow White tale set in Sevilla, Spain, in the 1920s. We were rather surprised when we realized it was silent, but the lack of voice made the music and the visual aspect so much more impelling. Plus, the cinematography was beautiful.

There are many other ways that life’s poetry can be experienced too. You can feel it in the embrace of someone you love after a long separation or in that last sweet look when they turn around before disappearing into airport security on their way back home. You can smell it in the melody of aromas wafting around your apartment building during the lunch hour. You can hear it in the crunchy resonance of your feet on the park trails as you go for an early run. You can see it in foam twisting up in a passing swirl of wind from the fountain that someone has secretly tainted with soap.

So for those who claim poetry is dead – each moment, each experience has something of poetry in it. Life is, in and of itself, in many ways a poem. Sometimes we just need to liberate our minds from the mundane rut we so often fall into to be able to see it. We need to think, to feel, to see, to smell. We need to participate in the poem.

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