I think it’s safe to say that I’m in a slump. This happens to me every February (my mom calls it my “February Funk” – the fact that it has its own name tells you how regular of a thing this is) as well as after every big project is completed and I’m not sure what to work on next. This year, those two things are coinciding for a super-mega-slump-of-doom.
All this to say I couldn’t think of anything to blog about this week. Since my own words won’t do, I hope you’ll forgive me for instead directing you to some words by others that always touch my heart. Below, ten poems I’d love for you to read. (These aren’t in any type of order.)
1. “The Day is Done” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This poem absolutely must be read at night right before bed. If at all possible, have someone you love read it to you, slowly and softly. I tear up most times that my husband reads it to me; it’s just so perfect.
2. “Litany” by Billy Collins
If you love a little bit of dry humor in your poetry – as well as a healthy dose of exquisite phrasing – this one’s for you. How Billy Collins entwines the two so perfectly is beyond me.
3. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost
I find that this poem of Robert Frost’s is less talked about than others, even though I think it’s one of his masterpieces. I suggest: read it once literally, and then read it again as a metaphor for suicide.
4. “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley
Man, even in a heavy slump this poem touches me. Every line is packed with power; if this one can’t make you feel inspired, I dare say ye have little hope.
5. “The Writer” by Richard Wilbur
Writers, this is a must-read. If you don’t read any of the others on this list; read this one. Even if you hate poetry. I promise.
6. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas
Another one that will make you cry, if you let it. This one is a villanelle, which is a form of poem heavily rhymed and repetitive, so it might not be for all modern readers, but if you can let the rhythm of it sink in, I think you’ll find it powerful.
7. “To Science” by Edgar Allan Poe
I would be remiss not to include some Poe here, but I wanted one you might not have read. This is a sonnet – and it’s not perfect – but I think it’s well worth a read. If nothing else, I think everyone should know that Poe wrote about many things besides spooks and death.
8. “Night is my Sister” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
By now… you’re probably realizing that I tend to gravitate towards dark, powerful poems. This is another one (another sonnet), and it would be difficult for me to explain how deeply this speaks to me. It feels like one I almost could have written myself in a different life.
9. “If Only We Had Taller Been” by Ray Bradbury
This poem is a beautiful example of free verse, and it’s also a nice “conversation” poem with Poe’s “To Science.” Bonus: this link comes with a video of Bradbury reading the poem. If you’re feeling impatient, you can skip to 2:20 in where he actually starts reading, or just scroll to the text below the video.
10. “A Room” by Jane Hirshfield
If this poem doesn’t convince you to read Jane Hirshfield, I don’t know what could. I love it so much I actually wrote to her and included one of my own poems that’s modeled after it. I think it speaks to what a lovely person she must be that she took the time to write back.
So there you have it: ten poems I think you’ll find well worth your time. I hope you all have a great, slump-free week.