Friday, June 01, 2007

Life Lines

Wow. On Poetry Thursday this week, Dr. Jim posted an interesting project called life lines. The idea is "to recall words, lines, by a poet that stayed with you, that you could not let go for the life of you, and then in a paragraph (or two), describe a moment when these words arose in your life in which they brought you understanding, insight, solace, reconciliation, or comfort" and it has been quite fascinating to see what has been significant for people. Of course, it also got me thinking about what lines have been most meaningful for me.

There are many choices... lots of Mary Oliver, Janet Beeler's exquisite Dowry which I have yet to find online, some HD, some pieces by the great Romantic poets. But, when I think about the very first poem I remember having a strong effect on me, I return again and again to Robinson Jeffers' The Answer.

Here's an excerpt:
Integrity is wholeness,
the greatest beauty is
Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty
of the universe.

Imagine this: it is the early 1980s. I am a quiet and rather shy high school student. I'm interested in the typical teenage things - music (U2 before they were mainstream!), my after-school job as a waitress, my friends, my school activities, my crush/obsession with Clark Gable (yes, I know he was dead) and all of a sudden, I read this poem.

It absolutely sucker-punched me. It took me completely outside of myself and helped me to understand that teenage angst would pass and that even the broken places in life had a place in the whole. I loved and still love Jeffers' belief that one must look unflinchingly at *all* of the world - both the growing and the dying, the complete and the fragmented - or else you will be disappointed when the perfection you seek does not materialize.

These words are an anchor for my life. Those who know me would say, I think, that I am very stoic. I don't cry over spilled milk. I accept what comes. I *do* try to focus on the positive, but I am interested in the way both sides contribute to the whole. Good and bad. Light and dark. Chiaroscuro. I'm fascinated by the way the threads of loss that intertwine our lives intensify life's sweetness, and I think this is a theme that recurs frequently in my poetry.

So - what lines moved YOU?

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