Sunday, April 17, 2016

My Life Long Love for Poetry

Poetry has been a part of my life since I was a child. My sister June read poems to my little sister, Gay, and me before we went to sleep at night. One that I remember was Eugene Fields' Wynken, Blynken, and Nod who sailed around the  night sky in a  wooden shoe.

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—

Sailed on a river of crystal light
   Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
   The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
   That live in this beautiful sea;
   Nets of silver and gold have we,"
            Said Wynken,
            And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
   As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
   Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
   That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
   Never afraid are we!”
   So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
            And Nod.
It was first called a Dutch Lullaby. It helped put me to sleep.

Rhyming Poetry
My older brothers loved the rhyming poetry they were required to memorize in school. I can hear Max reciting The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, 

This is also one I remember they enjoyed. 

Abou Ben Adhem
By Leigh Hunt

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

When Ray began reciting verses, Max would join in. Those poems were not written in free verse or blank verse as most of the poetry is written today. They were easier to  memorize because of the  rhyme. I still love these old poems.
Max, now 86 years old, can recite those poems just as  he did when he was a kid. 

Here is  one of my early poems.


In my secret life
I shop on Rodeo Drive
and wear a size five.

In my secret life 
Pacific surf crashes
against my private beach.

In my secret life
I speak fluent French
and vacation in Paris.

In my secret life
I hike the Appalachian Trail
and write a book that sells.

In my secret life
I kayak the Oconee
for film maker, Clint Eastwood.

In my secret life
I live to be one hundred
and die, peaceful in my sleep.

Did you ever memorize a poem and can you still remember it?

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