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Daily Archives: October 12, 2012

The Poet Speaks

Yesterday, after I posted a Vaclav Havel poem, It Is I Who Must Begin, I realized there was more than just the poem at play. Sam Intrator in Teaching with Fire, which he co-edited with Megan Scribner, commented in a section entitled Tending the Fire: “Poetry, by its capacity to touch the human soul and tap into the deepest wellsprings of our being, opens up opportunities for us to stay vital and alive” (p. 210).

As I reflected on yesterday’s poem and the role that poetry plays in my life, I realized poetry is a series of conversations. It is both an internal and external process. I turn in with each word, symbol, and term and ask “What does that mean in my life?” I also, in that internal conversation, hear the poet, who is present, through his or her words.

I sit

Book in lap

Each word, space, punctuation

Each has meaning

A personal truth

For each heard differently.

I listen closer

My body leans in

I don’t want to miss any essence

I hear a voice

As in the company of another

Is the poet here with me?

Here is a quote that makes sense to me on many levels. We are constantly in an ocean of personal change, so it is only those who accept us for that element of our humanity that truly care for us.

Positive Outlooks Blog

If people refuse to look at you in a new light and they can only see you for what you were, only see you for the mistakes you’ve made, if they don’t realize that you are not your mistakes, then they have to go. ― Steve Maraboli

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It Is I Who Must Begin – Vaclav Havel

I made a promise coming into the school year. I would keep my head, do only what I can, and not flounder. I won’t let things get me down. I find solace in writing, nature, with Kathy, and in reading poetry. Some days I just open a book and find a poem which speaks to me in such a clear voice I think the poet stands or sits across from me sharing their words. That is what happened with this poem by Vaclav Havel.

It is I who must begin,

Once I begin, once I try—

here and now,

right where I am,

not excusing myself

by saying that things

would be easier elsewhere,

without grand speeches and

ostentatious gestures,

but all the more persistently

—to live in harmony

with the “voice of Being,” as I

understand it within myself

—as soon as I begin that,

I suddenly discover,

to my surprise, that

I am neither the only one,

nor the first,

nor the most important one

to have set out upon the road.

Whether all is really lost

or not depends entirely on

whether or not I am lost.

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