It’s been six years since I wrote a poem. The summer of 2010 I attended a writer’s colony at NYU for three weeks, and following that summer stopped writing all together. Or I guess I should say, I took a long break. I have always had a great love for poetry. I started writing when I was in middle school and continued my love for both reading and writing through high school and into university. Several years ago I had wanted to start a blog just about poetry. I remember excitingly e-mailing a friend informing him about it. Not surprisingly, I didn’t follow through. Probably because I wasn’t sure what it would do or mean. Images or written out passages of poetry, okay, sure… and then what? Does anyone care to read poems anymore?
But here I am, still wanting to share some of my favorite pieces or document them as a personal exercise. In my third year British Lit course, I remember my professor telling us a story of a friend who had memorized their favorite poems, in hopes that when they were very old and had lost some of their memory, the lyrical nature of poems, like songs, would ensure that he retained pieces that were special to him. I remember thinking that I too would memorize my favorite poems, and I did, especially during some difficult times. But my memory is shit and whenever I try to recite a poem, a few weeks or months after the initial memorization, it is gone. Perhaps they have to be recited daily or weekly, like the duas Muslim children are taught from when they are young.
The first poem I would like to share is by Emily Dickenson, titled “I died for beauty.” It may seem silly to do or even say, but the poems I share here will be retyped from my own books, clippings or sites versus merely copy-pasted. There is something to be said for typing the words out one by one. So here is the first poem. It’s a bit morbid, yes, but also an exploration of the foundational values people base their lives on. Ever since I first read this poem, I often come back to the idea of a life defined by either truth, beauty or a relationship between the two.
I died for beauty by Emily Dickenson
I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.
He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
‘And I for truth,–the two are one;
We brethren are,’ he said.
And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms.
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered our names.