Bedside Reading

“Vilma Reading a Book” by Tavik František Šimon, Czech 1877-1942

I’d just like to take a moment to celebrate poetry which seems to be resurgent; from the northwest with the Dickman twins (read the New Yorker profile here) to the east coast and the hip hop poetry smash-ups (watch “The Hip-Hop Project” on the Sundance Channel this Monday), words in rhyme and rhythm haven’t been so popular since, well at least since before texting…

Carol Ann Duffy has accepted the crown of Britain’s Poet Laureate, the first woman (and openly Lesbian) to have been so honored. She believes that poetry, to some extent, provides spirituality in a secular society, which she showcases in her work, “Prayer.”


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child’s name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

(from Mean Time [Anvil, 1994])

I’ve been re-reading Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” over the last several months, dipping in and out of it at random–finding solace and ease in his beautiful words. May I encourage you to take a volume of poetry tonight and by the glow of your bedside light, immerse yourself in the beauty of words?


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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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