Wednesday, December 27, 2017

John Adams: "You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.”

This is such a catchy maxim, one written by President John Adams
to his son, John Quincy Adams: "You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.”

However, quickly, deeply, key questions arise:

1. Is this true, that you will never be alone?

2. Which poets ought one to include, without so stuffing your pocket it begins to look
like you have a huge wart on your leg?

3. Besides, Adams, spoke of only one poet at a time. So that leads to the more difficult question,
what poet ought one to put in his/her pocket first?

4. And most of all, what poem deserves to be hugged closely to yourself, bleeding deep into you--
one that you read with shock, powerful reaction,
sometimes in delight or in horror,
and eventually with deep reflection
that gets down into the marrow of your bones and heart?

You--with that pocketed poet in your soul and gut--then like the proverbial camel who chews his cud,
you chew on it for years.

The camel goes incredible distances through difficult terrain and inhospitable weather, and can survive without water and other things that most animals must have.

Does any poem do that for you?

Here's one powerful poem, a stunner:

in time’s a noble mercy of proportion
with generosities beyond believing
(though flesh and blood accuse him of coercion
or mind and soul convict him of deceiving)

whose ways are neither reasoned nor unreasoned
his wisdom cancels conflict and agreement
– saharas have their centuries; ten thousand
of which are smaller than a rose’s moment

there’s time for laughing and there’s time for crying –
for hoping for despair for peace for longing
– a time for growing and a time for dying:
a night for silence and a day for singing

but more than all (as all your more than eyes
tell me) there is a time for timelessness

by e.e. cummings

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

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