I have a masters in English Literature. And I hate poetry. From the bottom of my heart. And that’s neither due to my lack of appreciation for the beauty or intensity of poetic expressions nor that I don’t have a sense of style and rhythm.
It’s just that my mind’s too lazy to decode what’s cryptic or interpret the “real” meaning behind those beautifully constructed lines. That’s why I love prose — simple, direct, and to the point. There’s no metric structure or complexity that the literati drool over. What you read is what is. Period.
That said, I do read a poem here and there, if the spirit moves me, and I do bump into gems that ought to be treasured. One of them is this poem by Walt Whitman from his 1855 collection, “Leaves of Grass.” I’m sharing an excerpt from the poem that one of my favorite Jiu-Jitsu instructors posted on YouTube:
I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,I Sing the Body Electric, Walt Whitman
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious,
breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.
There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well,
All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.
Now, if you care to read the poem, it’s about the physicality of the human body. The poet argues that the body and the soul are equally pure. The former doesn’t corrupt the soul as was commonly believed by Christians back then. And you’ll notice that the poems delves deep into the various ways the body (both male and female) is just perfect.
What appealed to me was the fourth section that Chewy shared. It resonates so much with our relationships and how much we treasure it. It sure did remind me of mine. Enough to make me reach out to my loved ones and let them know how much I’ve missed them.
Alas, that’s what great poetry does to you. It moves you.