Coming a close second to Gerard Manley Hopkins’ spring poem I wrote about last week is e.e. cumming’s #65 (he had an anarchistic irreverence about capitals and titles), especially because it is a poem that the love of my life read out loud to me on the ocean voyage where we (so very romantically) met:
I thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(I who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
I taught poetry writing and appreciation for years, and on the first day of class I always asked my students to find a stethoscope and listen to their own heartbeats (alternatively, they could submerge themselves in a bathtub and get a friend to pound rhythmically on the outside). I wanted them to realize that poetry was not ultra-sophisticated and to be afraid of but as ordinary and familiar as their own heart beats, which go ta TAH ta TAH ta TAH in standard iambic pentameter.
The thing about Hopkins’ and cummings’ spring poems is that, when you read them out loud, you find a sequence of TAHs surrounded by a hodgepodge of tas in no such regular relationship. It’s all in the accent, or downbeat, and that’s what makes their words leap around so festively.
It is spring, and we could certainly do with a bit of leaping around and festivity.
I like to play in yellow mud
all squishy-squash between my toes
I’d rather play in yellow mud
than smell a yellow rose.
(traditional children’s rhyme, in iambic pentameter)