For nearly thirty years, I was paid to read beautiful literature with passionate pre-teens. I sweetly recall teaching the same poem to the sixth class of the day, for the twenty-sixth consecutive year. The words, rhythm, and rhyme had, by then, seeped into my cells, become part of my DNA. Reading aloud, I unconsciously closed the book and continued reciting, only a little embarrassed that my voice wavered and my eyes watered. Since retiring from teaching, there are days when I feel something is missing, and I realize it’s the poems. I keep only a few poetry books in my home, but one I won’t part with is Ten Poems to Change Your Life by Roger Housden. Like any great book, every time I open it, I’m struck by something new, something that cracks my soul wide open and makes me question my every thought, word, and deed. I could never choose my favorite poem, but here’s one of Housden’s ten to change your life~
The Journey by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began.
Though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice-
though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles.
“Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible.
It was already late enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little,
as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do the only thing you could do-
determined to save the only life that you could save.
Think On These Things~ Alicia