I have a folder where I put poems I’ve printed or been given or copied out of books. Maybe someday I’ll put them in a notebook so I’ll think to look in it more often. Three poems were mentioned in connection with the manuscripts we discussed in my March Sirenland workshop. I was not familiar with any of them. A fourth one I discovered on the same page as the third one. Here are a few lines from each:

1) “After great pain a formal feeling comes” by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow–
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.

2) “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone” by W. H. Auden (1907-1973)

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

3) “A Third Body” by Robert Bly (1926-)

A man and a woman sit near each other, and they do not long
at this moment to be older, or younger, nor born
in any other nation, time, or place.
They are content to be where they are, talking or not-talking.

4) “A Story About the Body” by Robert Haas (1941-)

The young composer, working that summer at an artist’s colony,
had watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost
sixty, and he thought he was in love with her. He loved her
work, and her work was like the way she moved her body, used

When I was working on my novel, I would start by reading a poem or two. I think I’m going to go back to that for a while–light a candle, read a poem, get to work….

Do any of you read poetry before writing? Do you have a favorite poem you read over and over?

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