A poetic inspiration – lines that mean the world to us

Inspirational artwork by Genevieve Murray to be used in Dandelions and Bad Hair Days

I have been inspired this morning. Not to write too much of my own but to look at the work of others and take heart from the possibilities that work opens up to me.

This is due simply to the power of blogging. I follow the lovely blog findingtimetowrite developed by the enigmatic Marina Sofia who regularly offers posts that pick me up, make me take notice of my mood and stop blaming the world around me for the lack of words on the paper in front of me.

Today she has done it again, in a very simple way. The post ‘Poems that mean the world to me’ offers fragments of poetry that have inspired her and which, she says, she might keep under her pillow but finds more usefully kept on her noticeboard in her study…

That is what poets (and often song writers too) are so good at – expressing our thoughts and speaking for us in ways that feel – at that moment anyway – beyond us. So I’ve taken a teabreak from admin to post up my own favourites – poems that have buoyed me up or brought me back to the life I’m living and encouraged me to keep believing that I can do it – whatever ‘it’ may be.

The first is from the second half of ‘Birches’ by Robert Frost…..

He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

For me this expresses all I think about the desire to escape and experience a life apparently free from cares and responsibility; but with the knowledge that in truth I don’t want the option to return to be taken away from me forever….

And the second is John Keats, as anyone who reads my blog might have known to be inevitable. ‘When I have fears…’ was the subject of one of my most-read blog posts ‘ John Keats on self-doubt’ and I know from responses I have had to it that it speaks to writers and non-writers alike of self-doubt, fear of failure and desperation to succeed. But it is also expresses the need for ‘mindfulness’ – the last two lines highlighting the importance of the moment and freeing yourself from the anxieties that can overwhelm you and restrict future happiness…

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to Nothingness do sink.

So thanks to Marina for a post that has inspired me to get on with tapping away at the keyboard this morning. I may be looking at databases and writing emails but in doing that it will free me up to do what I enjoy.

I am not one who always asks a question at the end of a blog to elicit responses but I am genuinely interested in what inspires people to take a dream forward – whether it is poetry, art, music, gardening, food, films, family or any one of a number of possibilites. So let me know what holds you fast to the thought of success, or keeps you from the fear of failure.

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4 Responses to A poetic inspiration – lines that mean the world to us

  1. MarinaSofia says:

    Your words are far too kind (she said, tossing her enigmatic mane, dark as night). Glad I managed to inspire you despite the drills. Love your choice of poems – Keats I was familiar with and it’s heartbreaking. But, although I have read Frost, somehow that poem never jumped out at me – and it’s wonderful. It says so much and so simply! That’s why it’s a great idea to share your favourite poems with other people – you always discover something new. So thank you for sharing!

  2. emma says:

    I have nothing which keeps me from fear of failure. But what keeps me going is my love of God and the desire to share love around the world as He has shared with me. I find that in love, laughter, poetry, art, nature and especially in the words of others’ experiences. Perhaps that’s why my favourite poems are childhood favourites which make me smile

    • keatsbabe says:

      Thanks Emma. I admire people who have that faith, in whatever religion – it is something I have always sought but never quite found, despite wide reading on the subject and an honest attempt to open my heart to it. I think to be able to write poetry is as near as possible to sharing your heart with the world.

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