The blog is for serious writers and readers of poetry as a means for a dialogue on the difficulties and joys in engaging with poetry in a culture lacking recognition of its value. The purpose includes calling attention to the work of contemporary poets. Veterans Day provided an occasion for mention of poets who have rendered an account of their participation in a war. Owens' "Dulce Et Decorum Est" compares soldiers to "old beggars under sacks." In "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner," the American poet Randall Jarrell portrays an inglorious experience in the Second World War. Comments focused on poetry are encouraged, questions welcome.
In celebrating an individual in a poem, a poet can uncover a self-truth in the reality of another. In the sequence on his mother in The Haw Lantern, Seamus Heaney reveals not only details of a family life but his sensitivity to the gift of their relationship. At her deathbed, recalling their peeling potatoes together, he writes " I remembered her head bent towards my head/ Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives--/Never closer the whole rest of our lives." (Poem 3).
Veterans Day brings to mind the work of poets on the war they have experienced, among them Wifred Owen, killed in action on November 4, 1918, fighting for England, a week before the World War I armistice. In his poem Dulce et Decorum Est (a Latin quotation from the Roman poet Horace: "It is sweet and becoming to die for one's country"), he describes the horrors suffered in modern warfare, concluding that the saying is an " old lie." In his famous poem, Owen emphasizes the tragedy, not the glory of war.
Poetry offers a unique medium for embodying an experience or an individual in an image.
The leaves of the geranium I named
for her are curled up like her hands
the night of her heart attack, a sign,
the nurse said, she was giving up.
But she let death go that time.
So this geranium, four years ago
all leaves when I invoked
her spirit on its behalf, scared
if nothing changed, eternity
might also have its boundaries,
shortly flowered in such abundance
friends noticed. Now these stiffened stems
look past treatment as usual,
at risk to prove her here in a flower,
performing for joy in the world.
Her BMW and Other Poems ( Columbus: Pudding House Publications, 2007)
Included in: Open Season (Cincinnati: David Robert Books, 2015)
and Among the Absent (Georgetown: Finishing Line Press , 2019)
Neva Herrington is a poet and former educator. She is currently working on a new book of poetry, a collection of short stories, and her memoir. Her inspiration comes from her own experience and the work of other poets.