In high school, I felt I had the angst-filled heart of a poet. This was fueled in part by the encouraging little notes, written in red, by my English teacher Mrs Lansdown who would write in beautiful flowing script at the bottom of my poems or essays: “Profound, Bonnie. This is lovely, Bonnie. This is so deep and thoughtful, Bonnie.”
So, is it any wonder that I embraced the words of American poet Edna St Vincent Millay? I felt I had found a soulmate who maybe, just maybe, could relate to my desire to change the world through free verse. I didn’t understand or care at the time that her politics and worldview differed greatly from mine – I just knew that she had the ability to line words up in a way that spoke to my fragile teenage heart.
Our mother had once said of my desire to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” that I went at life like I was killing snakes. A laughable image, but probably an accurate assessment of my whirly-girly life as a 14-year-old. Imagine my delight when I came upon a poem by my idol Edna that captured the essence of what Mother was saying, but with a bit of elegance replacing the coo-coo crazy image of snake killing.
Here it is:
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
It is my heart’s desire that my loved ones will see fit to have this engraved on my tombstone – this seems so much better than “She went at life like she was killing snakes!”
Do you have a poem that embodies your way of seeing things-that speaks to your heart as though it were written for you?
Would love for you to share that poem or quote with your iSissies.
Is there any better way to get to know someone’s heart than through the poetry they love and live by?