This week: Expanding Perceptions Through VerseEdited by: warpedsanity
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All of us lovers of poetry have a particular poem or stack of poems written by another that we hold close to our hearts for one reason or another. Sometimes it is because we relate or empowered. For me though, my favorite are those that touch on experiences not my own, expanding my awareness and hitting an emotional chord when understanding life in their shoes.
Some of the best poems are footprints in history. Through imagery they transport us through time, giving us insight on what it was like to live their experiences. Some of the greats that come to mind right offhand are Wilfred Owen, Paul Celan, and Francesca Wilde.
Wilfed Owen left a legacy in verse, sharing his experiences as a young WW1 soldier. All his poetry was written in just a little over a year before his death at age 25. Though tragic, his words remain in the hearts of many who read, giving them understanding of the horrors of war. For me, as I read his words, I think of the many men and women who serve, many of which who suffer Owen's fate.
I chose to highlight Paul Celan because his poetry is especially unique of Jewish Holocaust survivors. He was born into a German speaking Jewish family. While he was sent to a forced labor camp, both of his parents were sent to a separate Nazi war camp. His mother was shot by a German soldier and his father died of an illness. He was fluent in several other languages, yet even though his captors' and mother's murderers spoke German, he chose to write his poetry in German. Oddly, his choice to write his poetry in German is morbidly fitting.
Besides being the great Oscar Wilde's mother, Francesca Wilde is also known for her poetry written during the Potato Famine. When I read her poetry of woe, anger, and strength, I think of my great grandmother who came to America around that time period and what her experiences might have been in Ireland. She was an orphan, so I can't help to wonder if her words would have mirrored Mrs. Wilde's words in the poem The Itinerant Singing Girl.
Of course, most authors on WdC are not fated to be known like the authors highlighted, but it is always interesting to read poetry here that varies from my own personal experiences and perceptions on life. I read many mentioning what they relate to when reading poetry of others, but I find the aspects that differ from my own experiences and school of thought hold my attention more. It takes me out of my own self-absorbed head, expanding my perceptions.
In closing I'll leave you with a poem which I read often. A lot of you have probably already read it. Apparently it has been circulating for some time, but I was only introduced to it a few years ago when I began working in geriatrics. The author is unknown but the story behind the poem is it was found in an elderly Scottish woman's belongings after she passed away in a nursing facility. When I get frustrated and tired and begin treating my patients like a job, I read this poem.
An Old Lady's Poem
What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice, "I do wish you'd try!"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe.....
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill....
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse; you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten ...with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty -- my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man's beside me to see I don't mourn.
At fifty once more, babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead;
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.
I'm now an old woman ...and nature is cruel;
'Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I'm loving and living life over again.
I think of the years ....all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman; look closer ...see ME!!
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