This day marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare.
The greatest poet and playwright who ever lived.
The Reconciliation of the Montagues and Capulets by Frederic Leighton (1855)
When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least.
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
In recognition of April being National Poetry Month, since 1996.
Over the last few months, I’ve been setting aside time to read a few lines of poetry every day. Its difficult to explain, but somehow it lessens the weight of the burdens I carry. The noise around me turns to stillness, and my soul is renewed in those quiet moments.
Though I am reluctant to confess, I will admit there was a time when I thought poetry was very dull. Attempting to understand the meaning behind the riddles seemed difficult and tedious. They contained rhymes, but I could see no reason – and this left me with little enjoyment.
Foolishly, I concluded romantic verse had no place in the life of a realist. It was no small task for me to learn I was completely mistaken. For those of you who find poetry a little lackluster, consider this a modest attempt to persuade you otherwise.
Such Singing in the Wild Branches
by Mary Oliver
Blossoming Almond Tree by Vincent van Gogh (1890)
It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves –
then I saw him clutching the limb
in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still
and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness –
and that’s when it happened,