The pen is mightier than the sword. Words can stir up, simmer, seduce, and ease. Add a formula, a message, or an alliteration, and a spell may be cast. Indeed, there is a poem for every need.
As I travel through my own life, I enjoy reading poems that either pacify troubling emotions or come along with me for the journey. Below I have put together A Poem for Every Need (okay–not every need, but that would be a very long article, wouldn’t it?) in the hopes that others may find the same solace and pleasure in written word as I have. I hope they cast a spell on you as well.
When you need a reminder of the flavors and breadth of life: This poem basically has a pulse, and like all Sylvia Plath poems, a bunch of words you will probably have to look up.
Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,
designing futures where nothing will occur:
cross the gypsy’s palm and yawning she
will still predict no perils left to conquer.
Jeopardy is jejune now: naïve knight
finds ogres out-of-date and dragons unheard
of, while blasé princesses indict
tilts at terror as downright absurd.
“Ennui” (1950) by Sylvia Plath.
Riding the High of Happiness: Life is sometimes good. Very good. This poem will align with your good energy, and probably give you more.
so world is a leaf so a tree is a bough
(and birds sing sweeter
so here is away and so your is a my
(with a down
around again fly)
forever was never till now
“If Everything Happens That Can’t Be Done” (1944) by e. e. cummings.
When you are in the mood for a legitimate wordsmith: Everyone who has read Oscar Wilde’s work knows there are few with more wit and charisma when it comes to writing. This poem is short and will make you feel like rhythm and rhyme.
He skips through the copses singing,
And his shadow dances along,
And I know not which I should follow,
Shadow or song!
“In the Forest” (1881) by Oscar Wilde.
When you need female empowerment and a strong voice– There may be none better than Joy Harjo. Fearless, fierce, and creative.
I must keep from breaking into the story by force
for if I do I will find myself with a war club in my hand
and the smoke of grief staggering toward the sun,
your nation dead beside you.
“Equinox” by Joy Harjo (2008).
Surviving Heartbreak: To survive heartbreaks of any kind, one must eventually find some humor in the ups and downs of life, and embrace the new life. Dorothy Parker’s wit and sense of irony will help.
Eyes that watch the morning star
Seem a little brighter;
Arms held out to darkness are
Shall I bar the strolling guest,
Bind my brow with willow,
When, they say, the empty breast
Is the softer pillow?
“Threnody” (1926) by Dorothy Parker.
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