Thursday, June 30, 2011

Language of the Heart

photo courtesy of

"We will grieve not, rather find
      Strength in what remains behind;
      In the primal sympathy
      Which having been must ever be;
      In the soothing thoughts that spring
      Out of human suffering;
      In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."

-Excerpts from "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood"  by William Wordsworth

i guess that by now it is no secret how much i adore poetry. poetry is to me the greatest food on earth. i read it, i write it, i drink it in like melted chocolate. it is sometimes exquistely good at capturing emotion in a way that nothing else can. it's also usually brief (minus a few epic poems, which actually end up being worth the struggle to get through if you have a good teacher) and therefore gets right to the heart of the matter.

i took these stanzas from William Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood" and i am sure he is just rolling in his grave at the fact that i chopped up his poem and served it to you on my blog a la carte - but these are my two favorite stanzas probably because they contain as little Old English as possible.

for as long as i can remember, i've always wanted to understand the secret power of words and language. i can remember being very little - before i could read - and seeing my dad read the newspaper. i wanted to know how this grey flimsy piece of paper could sustain his attention for so long. i wanted to know what those teeny-tiny little symbols meant when strung together in various lengths. i wanted to crack the code like a nut that needed to be broken open to surrender its rich, white meat. i can remember seeing shelves of dusty books with yellow, crunchy pages and realizing that they didn't look like my bright, colorful childhood plastic books. i learned this meant that they were old, that they came before me and i knew that this meant something. i wanted to know what. i wondered what their pages contained. i soon learned those pages contained whole worlds, entire thought systems, chunks of beliefs and streams of human consciousness made available from one mind and heart to another mind and heart via this mysterious vehicle of words.

my specific love of poetry began with music because the lyrics in songs always spoke to me. i remember getting my whole family together so that i could stand on our elevated brick fireplace platform and sing a song i wrote on my own. the song was called "Yesterday" and even though i sang off-key and even though a few lines were lifted from a Celine Dion song, i knew right then and there as i stared at my family all piled on the yellow floral couch - this was my calling. words. speaking them. singing them with all my heart. sharing them. words that meant something to the heart - words about heartache, words about suffering, words about reprieve. writing these words, speaking these words, speaking the language of the heart - i knew right away this was for me.

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