A contribution to reality

Inside the Robert Frost farm in Derry, New Hampshire 2012

Inside the Robert Frost farm in Derry, New Hampshire 2012

“A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it.”Dylan Thomas

I tend to think of time spent reading poetry as a luxury, and certainly it’s possible to live without it.  But poems have had a place in my life that is far more practical and necessary than first seems apparent.  Reading poetry can be therapeutic and cathartic; it can be an amusing distraction or a much-needed voice of understanding in a dark and lonely hour.  Writing poetry hones our ability to shut out the unnecessary and pare down to essentials.  It trains us to communicate effectively by packing each word and phrase with meaning.  Today I invite you to set aside five minutes, or fifteen, to appreciate a poem or two.  It will be time well spent.  And please, feel free to add a link to one of your favorite poems in the comments.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly!!!

    • Thanks! I appreciate your visiting us here and I enjoyed seeing your blog too.

  2. Really I appreciate your interest to go through poems. I too have very much feel relaxation and joy to read poems and poems communicate a kind of rhythm and aptness in meaning.
    You may go into poems in my blog.

    • Thank you, I will certainly look for your poems! The more I read poetry, the more I can “tune in” to it as an experience that goes beyond the words themselves, and one part of that is the rhythm, as well as the mood communicated by the words which is not wholly dependent on their literal meaning.

      • Thank you. Most welcome.

  3. From the time our Daddy used to read it to me, over half-a-century ago, “Horatius at the Bridge”, by Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay, has been a favorite. It will take longer than fifteen minutes for this one, because it is a “lay” – that is, it is a poem of lofty heroic praise. That genre lends meaning to the words of the hymn by by E. S. Lorenz:

    In vain in high and holy lays
    My soul her grateful voice would raise
    For who can sing the worthy praise
    Of the wonderful love of Jesus!

    Wonderful love! wonderful love!
    Wonderful love of Jesus!
    Wonderful love! wonderful love!
    Wonderful love of Jesus!

    A joy by day, a peace by night
    In storms a calm, in darkness light
    In pain a balm, in weakness might
    Is the wonderful love of Jesus

    My hope for pardon when I call
    My trust for lifting when I fall
    In life, in death, my all in all
    Is the wonderful love of Jesus

    (Words public domain)
    As a child, I could only understand “lays” as a form of a verb. In my adulthood has come special meaning to the first verse, realizing “lays” is a plural noun.

    • Thanks Eric, I have never heard of that work by Macaulay; I will have to look it up.

  4. God Morning, Beloved sister in Christ & yours, My morning spent in prayers in my favorite “poetry” Song of Songs. in the Garden of Hope (fb) i write of my Love; God writes the Most Beautiful Poem. His child tries and humbly give Him an offering. Praying without ceasing for healing of one He Loves and for the Nations. Be Strong in Love. Peace.

    • Thanks so much! I love the poetic books of the Bible. Lately (for obvious reasons) Job has been a favorite, as is Ecclesiastes, and the Psalms bring deep comfort.

  5. Ryan
    • Ryan, PERFECT! I love that poem. Countless times I’ve recited that first verse in my head when I’ve been out on a windy, moonlit night. Thanks for sharing that link!

  6. I just did a post on Thursday with a poem by Robert Frost.
    You have a wonderful blog, keep up the good work!

    • Kay, I just visited your blog and really like it! I too am a Georgia girl with an English heart – have two Anglophile friends who understand my love of all things British 🙂 and an English pen pal of almost 23 years now! She lives in Waltham Abbey, Essex and I visited her in person once, in 2000. I’m so happy you found my blog!

  7. Like Ryan, I immediately think of The Highwayman when I think of beloved poetry. But, in keeping with the “packing each word and phrase with meaning” thought, I submit my favorite short poem:

    Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
    Success in Circuit lies
    Too bright for our infirm Delight
    The Truth’s superb surprise

    As Lightning to the Children eased
    With explanation kind
    The Truth must dazzle gradually
    Or every man be blind —

    When I say the poem in my head, I always think “Too quick for our infirm Delight…” If I am going to type it out for someone, I always have to look it up, because I feel that I’ve gotten it slightly off. It’s arrogant of me, but I wish Dickinson *had* used “quick” instead of “bright”, because to me the meaning is slightly different. That’s one of my favorite things about poetry, though. It means what we want it to. My 11th-grade American Literature teacher LOVED to tell the story of when she met Robert Frost and asked him what “The Road Not Taken” meant, and he replied, “It means whatever you think it means.” I think poetry more often affords this kind of freedom than other forms of expression.

    • April, that is one of my favorite poems too! In fact, I once considered having a website or blog named “Telling It Slant” and at the time, that domain was still available (though it might not be now). Personally, I like “bright” better than “quick” – it goes along with “dazzle” and “blind.” Incidentally, speaking of Frost, his poem “Fire and Ice” is the first thing I think of when searching for a prime example of profound but concise poems.

  8. I won’t hold it against you, your preference for “bright” over “quick”. 😉 “Bright” certainly fits the metaphor better. The one time I showed my very bad poetry to a writer friend for a critique he told me I’d “better work out those mixed metaphors” and that was about it. Ha. I love “Fire and Ice” also. Nice post – thanks for making me think about this stuff.


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