Poems from before the 21st century

I am not an avid reader of poetry, but there have been several poems that have stayed with me and helped me shape a fiction writing style that my friends describe as poetic. I have written several poems myself, but I prefer writing prose, though sometimes when inspiration strikes me, I give in and let the verses flow out.

1. Roads Go Ever On by the famous J.R.R. Tolkien, which is actually a song included both in The Hobbit, when Bilbo Baggins returns to the Shire from his adventures, and in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, when the old hobbit sets off to Rivendell to finish writing his book. In 2005, when I turned 15, I have finished reading these two books and other works by Tolkien, such as Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and Roverandom. Tolkien still remains a great source of inspiration for me and the world he created has heartened so many writers to compose similar stories that are lovely to read and re-read, each of them contributing to this wonderful book genre that is fantasy.

2. Salutation to the Dawn by Kalidasa, a Sanskrit poet and dramatist, who is said to have lived in India more than 1500 years ago. His ancient words are simple and truthful, yet they profoundly resonate with our world today, when most people seem to need a return to the age of simplicity and love. This poem is like a personal mantra for me because whenever I’m agitated and lost I try to find a place where I can close my eyes with the sun on my face and I slowly speak these verses to myself until I can feel them bring me back to the present and relieve my anxiety.

3. Alone by Edgar Allan Poe is one of the first poems that I identified myself with when I was younger. My love for books and knowledge was often regarded as a weakness by people around me. Little by little, people’s attitudes made me feel like outcast and different, and it took me almost ten years to realize that being different isn’t something bad, but something that makes me stand out from the crowd. Acceptance is given to those who don’t stray from the norm and that gives them strength and assurance, but such people, who disregard others who are different than them, when they’re on their own they are lost and insecure. I wouldn’t want to be just another sheep in the flock for anything in the world. And so should everyone.

4. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost is a poem that reminds me of a wonderful winter that I lived in Budapest some years ago. This is a simple creation, yet it reaches into the depths of a human heart with its final lines: “But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep“. Sometimes, when life seems to throw at us more than we can seize, it’s tempting to give it all up and start walking on an easier path. But that is the crucial moment when we have to remember that an easier path never leads to a rewarding destination, but to an end of a journey crowned with disappointment and regrets. This poem also makes me think of the serenity of winter evenings when the silence and the silvery moon capture the snow-covered lands and veil them with mystery, a time when everything is possible. On such nights, life slows down, the cold against your warm breath makes you feel more alive than ever, but when it all ends, it seems nothing but a fragment of a dream.

5. Not Marble, nor the Gilded Monuments is William Shakespeare‘s famous Sonnet 55. What I love most about it is the message it delivers so beautifully: the loved one is immortalized by the the reverence of the poet, but in the end not even that matters because lovers always change in a dance of joy and death, while love, as an universal thread that connects us all, never dies.

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