Read a Poem Per Day

As you know, I’m a fan of big New Year’s resolutions.  However, I also delight in small ones, and this year, I made one that I’m already loving.  It’s simple in concept, easy to execute, and brings me joy.  In 2012, I plan to read one poem each day.

The reasons for this are manyfold, but mostly, it’s because I believe it’s virtually impossible to be ornery, impatient, doubt-filled, or downtrodden while reading beautiful poetry.  Poems ask us to absorb information differently, and they remove us from the daily grind.  They are felt, rather than read.  If this sounds like an appealing year-long experiment, I invite you to jump in.  If you’re not keen on poetry, perhaps try your own daily dose of inspiration: contemplate a new piece of art or music each day, read a quote, learn about a new tropical animal, discover a word or flower . . .

Speaking of flowers, I want to share the following poem about lilies with you: The Ponds by Mary Oliver, who is a favorite poet of mine (and hails from Cape Cod, too!).  This week, I closed a few yoga classes by reading this aloud. The last stanzas, in particular, will dazzle you.

Om Mama’s garden pond in mid-summer. 

The Ponds

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them–

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided–
and that one wears an orange blight–
and this one is a glossy cheek

half-nibbled away–
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled–
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing–
that the light is everything–that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

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