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National Poetry Day – what is it all about?

8 mins read

National Poetry Day is celebrated annually on the first Thursday of October and its main purpose is to celebrate the love for language and communication.

I dare to say that it is not a secret anymore that poetry has kind of always made other people feel better.

Why? To me, for instance, poetry explores the parts of ourselves we oftentimes are too ashamed to talk about with others.

However, once we have enough courage (or we do not but still make the move) and write, not only will writing things out help us deal with our inner states easier, but it also helps others as they get someone to relate to.

I would like to share a couple of my forever favourite pieces of poetry today because that is what this day is all about, sharing love through language:

If – Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

(source: PoetryFoundation.com)

Image Credit: Pinterest

The reason I am so fond of this particular one is its simplicity. Despite the fact that the content might feel a little heavy some days, it still speaks words of truth to many. Although some might consider it as not a particularly good example of quality poetry, this still remains one of the best poems I have ever encountered.

Morning Song – Sylvia Plath

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.

The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry

Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.

In a drafty museum, your nakedness

Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother

Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow

Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath

Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:

A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral

In my Victorian nightgown.

Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try

Your handful of notes;

The clear vowels rise like balloons.

(source: PoetryFoundation.com)

Image Credit: BuzzFeed

If you are familiar with Sylvia Plath, her work, or her character, you can probably guess that her poetry is at times not easy to read at all for its strong expression of emotions. In connection to that, I am aware that that is exactly what poetry does, introduces powerful and oftentimes ugly emotions.

However, with Sylvia Plath, you cannot really help but sympathise with her, feeling as if she is your bigger sister showing you what the real world really looks like to her.

Howl – Allan Ginsberg

Image Credit: Pinterest

The third poem I will not include in this article, since it is Howl, by Allan Ginsberg. If you did not know, that poem is a very long one. However, it is definitely worth the read.

I first read it after my secondary teacher introduced it to my classmates and I and once I started reading, I could not put it down. Every time I get this one in my hands, I personally feel as if I am not even reading a poem but a diary of Allan Ginsberg. I recommend trying to read Howl out loud, you’ll get a much stronger feeling out of it.

Similarly, I would often ask myself, should I really be reading something that sounds this personal? It feels too private and detailed to be read by somehow who never met Allan Ginsberg. Following that, I would also like to warn you, there in all likelihood will be passages which might confuse you. It is due to the fact that the poem was written for Ginsberg’s friends who, of course, had a much better understanding of his personal life than we do.

Access the poem at Poetry Foundationhttps://www.poetryfoundation.org/

Naturally, the list of poems that are dear to my heart could go on and on but that is not my main point here. I wanted to remind you that today is the national day of poetry, a genre that, in my humble opinion, gets underrated sometimes and should be paid more attention to. Enjoy your reading today!

Feature Image Credit: Aaron Abaureden/Unsplash

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