Poetry Hit

I was blown away this morning by two very different poems that happened to be next to each other in the anthology I am reading, An Invitation to Poetry, part of the Americans’ Favorite Poems Project.

The first was Ars Poetic by Archibald Macleish. I’m sure I’ve read it in the past, and that it slid past me without impact. But for whatever reason this morning these lines:

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind –

somehow resonated with me, touching the feeling that comes after a big storm, when the clouds have swept away and opened up the dome of the sky, to both sight and feeling. That might have very little to do with the overall intention of the poem, but that’s what reading it felt like to me this morning.

And the second poem, as different can be, was Language Lesson 1976 by Heather McHugh. This poem was a revelation: a language puzzle, playful, a love poem, all at once. I’ve never read a poem like this before. The closest I can come to explaining the experience is a good bilingual joke. They both hinge on your understanding of language and your ability to conceptualize in some way that language. Meta language, maybe (maybe? seems like it could be?). It was like learning to read all over again, first the words said one thing and then suddenly they rearranged themselves on the page, in my head, and said something entirely different, and lovely. No excerpt could do it justice, you have to read it in its entirety via the link above.

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