the first poem I remember reading was... (note: I apparrently missed this one, so... here goes)

The pedigree of honey
does not concern the bee,
a clover, any time, to him
is aristocracy.

E. Dickinson

(another note: this is more than likely a false memory...I really and truly came into Dickinson early in highschool, and I mean by way of myself and then truly dedicated myself to her ...I read reams and reams of Dr. Suess and others, tho I was never into Shell Silverstein, I loved nursery rhymes and read them to my sister when she was small every night...as I do to my own daughter...she is a great Shelly lover too!)

I was forced to memorize numerous poems in school and...

No,. well not in primary school or highschool anyway. I might have really enjoyed school more had that been the agenda (or on it). Of course, I did memorize a lot on my own, and often without realizing that's what I was doing. Reading poetry for me has always been like codework, the reading and re-reading of which being quite necessary. Through reading the voices of 'others' I found of vein of life that previously didn't inhabit my world as a child...

ALL I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked the other way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line 5
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I’d started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood. 10
Over these things I could not see:
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small 15
My breath came short, and scarce at all.
But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I’ll lie
And look my fill into the sky. 20
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And—sure enough!—I see the top!
The sky, I thought, is not so grand; 25
I ’most could touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.
I screamed, and—lo!—Infinity
Came down and settled over me; 30
Forced back my scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
And, pressing of the Undefined
The definition on my mind,
Held up before my eyes a glass 35
Through which my shrinking sight did pass
Until it seemed I must behold
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose sound
Deafened the air for worlds around, 40
And brought unmuffled to my ears
The gossiping of friendly spheres,
The creaking of the tented sky,
The ticking of Eternity.
I saw and heard and knew at last 45
The How and Why of all things, past,
And present, and forevermore.
The Universe, cleft to the core,
Lay open to my probing sense
That, sick’ning, I would fain pluck thence 50
But could not,—nay! But needs must suck
At the great wound, and could not pluck
My lips away till I had drawn
All venom out.—Ah, fearful pawn!
For my omniscience paid I toll 55
In infinite remorse of soul.
All sin was of my sinning, all
Atoning mine, and mine the gall
Of all regret. Mine was the weight
Of every brooded wrong, the hate 60
That stood behind each envious thrust,
Mine every greed, mine every lust.
And all the while for every grief,
Each suffering, I craved relief
With individual desire,— 65
Craved all in vain! And felt fierce fire
About a thousand people crawl;
Perished with each,—then mourned for all!
A man was starving in Capri;
He moved his eyes and looked at me; 70
I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,
And knew his hunger as my own.
I saw at sea a great fog bank
Between two ships that struck and sank;
A thousand screams the heavens smote; 75
And every scream tore through my throat.
No hurt I did not feel, no death
That was not mine; mine each last breath
That, crying, met an answering cry
From the compassion that was I. 80
All suffering mine, and mine its rod;
Mine, pity like the pity of God.
Ah, awful weight! Infinity
Pressed down upon the finite Me!
My anguished spirit, like a bird, 85
Beating against my lips I heard;
Yet lay the weight so close about
There was no room for it without.
And so beneath the weight lay I
And suffered death, but could not die. 90

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950). from Renascence and Other Poems. 1917.

This first part of Millay's Renascence esp t he first 15 lines of which which still play like a soundtrack in my mind, like a mantra / and has always rang like a affirmation for me in being ... speaking to many things, feminism, being a female poet, as well as the obvious suffocation of growing up in an entirely too small coastal town in New England, from which I barely left the region of which (being New England) for the first 14 years of my life. Naysayers take pause, I will always firmly stand my ESVM! And I think her 'fall' in the eyes of many as either quaint or too formal-- well is just crap. I only ambled to Florida via a Band trip (yes, BAND!) And then Chicago when I wasx 16, for Speech and Debate (again, yes...but as hard as Mr. Hilly might have tried, I firmly only competed in the Dramatic category). Other accidental memorizations early on were of Dickinson, Whitman, Williams , Plath and Frost...many of which WERE the gamut of my early introductions to what poetry was.

My first 'publication' was not anywhere near as polished as E's I wonder just what teachers they had gotten into that poetry program!

And happily my first publication was a DIY chap I made (and still have) when I was 7! It has a rainbow (art by me in crayon) on the cover! My poems then were about the obviously important things in my life, ummm, pirates and baseballs (huh, that was never important, but maybe I was simply fudging for a concrete poem) apart from a few, most were typical iambic pentameter stanzas. After the making of that chap in Mrs. Smith's 2nd grade class, well I was homefree, making many more wee things even then--I think I was heavily influenced by a wonderful and now lost liliputan dictionary I scored at one of our neighborhood yardsales. The power of the written word always astonished and amazed me.

I read poetry because ... um, is that really a question ? I read poetry because like all language it is alive and changes depending on the time of reading. Poetry is a condensary (as Niedecker put it) and surely Emily would have. I love literature, especially novels as well,- but the condensary of poetry is what keeps me.

A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is ... there are certainly too many, I would have an easier time answering what my favorite poem to a specific author, meaning ask me which poem of WCW or Dickinson or Whitman, or Scalapino or Notley, then I can give a more succint answer and expand.

My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature. I already answered this above,- but, for me it is certainly a meditative experience, quite unlike reading other literature where a different sort of concentration is required.

I find poetry essential.

The last time I heard poetry was on MiPo, before that a most amazing experience/many readings at Cambridge in the fall.

I think poetry is like spirituality & for me, a religion.

Alright, I tag: Logan, John, Hayes and Kate (if she's back into blogging, I sadly won't be going to AWP either...well, not that I can forsee...it is just too expensive and well, to go and not have a table is just absurd. to go and pay 300. for a table, well that's even more absurd...we need a counter to AWP people)


Hayes said...

does this mean i am supposed to answer the bolded type as you did? by the way kaia explains, "susana is the most charming person you'll ever meet, and she has a wolf."

DUSIE said...

yes, or a variation of those questions, I guess... do you have yr own blog as well as the group one? now's the time!!! and soon I will have to post Jasper pics! (my pup)

John Sakkis said...



minor american ii said...

o, shoot... i will get on this at lunch!

DUSIE said...

yeah kate! so Jared, seems everyone has finished but, um, you ;) sent your wee books today!

the gobbler said...

i swear on the life of the fairy elf jester, i have been very busy as of late, i'll get on it asap...

Hayes said...

uh, not sure who that gobbler was, but it read my mind!

DUSIE said...

the gobbler...who or what is that? and Jared, no worries! only do the meme if you have time and want to! and if you don't get to it, that is really okay as well! take care! Gobbler beware!