On writing poetry

Truly. Reading the poems of bloggers who like my posts has been a humbling experience. From Nicholas Gaigner: “Sixty second serendipity; if love is a city, my heart makes up its slums.” This verse “Not hopeless, but without hope. If I could / capture my shadow, would I / imprison it in a cell of light” is from Robert Okaji, a poet whose elegant simplicity underlies the raw emotions encased in his words.

But. I refuse to stop composing poems. Living as I do in a milieu parched of intellectual companionship (hence the inclusion of the word “desert” in my blog’s name) besides that provided by the hubby (the only friend who challenges me intellectually is leaving for good in a few weeks’ time), poetry provides freedom and a connection to others in a way that no other hobby allows me to. Want to know my inspiration to keep going? Advise from a Greek poet:

The young poet Evmenis
complained one day to Theocritus:
“I’ve been writing for two years now
and I’ve composed only one idyll.
It’s my single completed work.
I see, sadly, that the ladder
of Poetry is tall, extremely tall;
and from this first step I’m standing on now
I’ll never climb any higher.”
Theocritus retorted: “Words like that
are improper, blasphemous.
Just to be on the first step
should make you happy and proud.
To have reached this point is no small achievement:
what you’ve done already is a wonderful thing.
Even this first step
is a long way above the ordinary world.
To stand on this step
you must be in your own right
a member of the city of ideas.
And it’s a hard, unusual thing
to be enrolled as a citizen of that city.
Its councils are full of Legislators
no charlatan can fool.
To have reached this point is no small achievement:
what you’ve done already is a wonderful thing.”
                                      Constantine Cavafy, The First Step

Note: Translated from Greek by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard.


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