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4 More Reasons Poetry Appreciation Can Save the Planet

June 09, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 158

1. If all leaders of the world were both politician and poet, there would be less wars and more harmony. The most stirring line President John F. Kennedy ever said was "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." That's a historic line of poetry. What about the end of the Gettysburg's Address: "... this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." That sounds like poetry to me.

Then there's the "Declaration of Independence": "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Politicians frequently stir us with their words because they know the power of words, and sometimes they capture our heartstrings with prose poetry.

Critically regarded Romantic poet, Percy Byshe Shelley, said that "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world." Does that sound like a quantum leap in reasoning? Consider what Emily Dickinson, Allen Ginsberg, and John F. Kennedy said about poetry.

  • Emily Dickinson: "When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.
  • Allen Greenberg: "Poetry comes nearer to the truth than history."
  • John F. Kennedy: "Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It's that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that's what the poet does."

What this planet needs are leaders that are both leader and poet. If we did, peace and good will might bloom throughout the land.

2. Many poets celebrate our planet by writing about the wonders of nature. William Wordsworth is a good example. Here's the first verse of "Daffodils":

I WANDERED lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Other poets like Mary Oliver, Robert Haas, and Gary Synder frequently celebrate nature. Why? Hal Borland might have the answer: "You can't be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet." John Muir wasn't suspicious of trees. He was perhaps the first tree-hugger. That's how much he loved trees. The following quote is almost a prose poem about the magic of trees:

"I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!"

3. Nonetheless, one doesn't have to be a tree-hugger or a poet to celebrate nature by designing homes and buildings that fit perfectly in its surroundings. Frank Lloyd Wright said, "I believe in God, only I spell it Nature." In the same manner, I believe in God, only I spell it p-o-e-t-r-y.

Poetry appreciation encourages us to live life more fully. Astrid Alauda, author and psychologist, says: "Happiness is sharing a bowl of cherries and a book of poetry with a shade tree. He doesn't eat much and doesn't read much, but listens well and is a most gracious host." And if that tree could talk it would echo the words of Carl Sandburg and say, "Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes."

If we love poetry, we carry in our heads favorite nursery rhymes, poems and lyrics that go wherever we go. When in traffic, instead of reaching for our cell phone (and breaking the law), we can recite or bellow out some of our favorite poems. Some poems even give us courage in dark moments. For this, I dial William Ernest Henley's: I-N-V-I-C-T-U-S, and I remind myself that "I am the master of my fate:/ I am the captain of my soul."

What sometimes takes a significant amount of courage is to squarely face our demons and confront them in writing. Once the demon is analyzed and written about it becomes less haunting and painful. It's like taking a computer virus and deleting it forever from your hard drive. Once again your heart and head can function more fluently-and you can live life more fully. And then you can work harder to save planet Earth.

4. But what exactly can non-famous people do to save the planet? Write odes to energy saving devices, and emulate the good people who buy electric cars; upgrade their water heaters; take short showers (or even better, bathe in a tub; use a programmable thermostat at home; drive their cars at reasonable speeds; carpool; ride their bike to work whenever possible; use front-load washing machines; put their refrigerators in a cool spot; create compost piles; recycle cans, bottles, and newspapers; plant trees on Earth Day, and hug trees in their spare time. These are the people who are truly active in Saving Planet Earth. We should follow in their green footsteps, and hold ourselves to a higher standard of living. Why? So that planet Earth can live on, and on.

J. Patrick Lewis said that "Poetry is the tunnel at the end of the light." Joe Sottile believes, if our lives were interfaced with poetry on a daily basis, we would live more rewarding lives. Joe is a poet and performer. Joe has written two poetry books for children: Picture Poetry on Parade!, and Waiting to See the Principal and Other Poems

Source: EzineArticles
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