Poetry speaks to the emotional beings that we are. I did not realize that until I was well into adulthood, as a working stiff in the US. I went to a local poetry reading. The poet was a local boy who had made it big on the other coast. So, there was a middle-aged man reading lines from his poem and it hit me: This is what poetry is about! Those lines spoke to me, which is what we expect from good poetry.
Since then, I have come to realize that when the right person reads a poem, oh boy, it is as if the mysteries of the universe are being solved. One word at a time, and one verse at a time. But, it does not always happen. A few years ago, I went to listen to a faculty-poet read his poem. Well ...
The other day, I watched a character in a Spanish movie, Julieta, refer to Ulysses. In the high school class in which she is the classics teacher, Julieta talks about Ulysses reaching Calypso’s island, exhausted after a shipwreck. The goddess Calypso offers herself to Ulysses and also promises him immortality. Think about this: The most beautiful woman ever and immortality.
Ulysses turns down the offer.
And heads to the high seas. An unknown expanse of adventure.
Ulysses wanted to live a life that he would not regret. I remembered having read the final stanza of Lord Tennyson's Ulysses. Here it is for you to read during this poetry month; maybe you can imagine James Earl Jones reading the lines:
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;I wish us all well with the chances that we take, and may we never have to regret the chances we didn't, and don't, take!
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.