After an early snow, on November 12, OPPC attendees gathered to read and discuss poems about Youth.

AnnaLee found James Arlington Wright’s “Youth” in which the poet tells how his father was robbed of that wonderful time of life: “He worked too hard to read books./He never heard how Sherwood Anderson/Got out of it, and fled to Chicago, furious to free himself/From his hatred of factories.”

Hedy read William Butler Yeats’ “When You Are Old,” in which the poet reminds the Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne of his bygone feelings for her: “How many loved your moments of glad grace,/And loved your beauty with love false or true;/But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you.”

Betsy read us “Coy Mistress,” an intriguing poem written as a reply to Andrew Marvell’s famous poem “To His Coy Mistress.” In her first line the poet Annie Finch makes a clever reference to her own name: “Sir, I am not a bird of prey:/a Lady does not seize the day.”

Ellen brought “To My Fifties,” from a past edition of the New Yorker, in which the poet speaks directly to his own mid-life decade: “… My Fifties! Answer me one question!/Were you the culmination or a phase? “Neither and both.” Explain!/ “No time. Farewell!” Since Ellen removed the poet’s name, we enjoyed discussing whether the work had the voice of a man or a woman. Here’s Kenneth Koch’s “To My Fifties.”

Maddie read “Walking Down Blanco Road at Midnight” by Naomi Shehab Nye in which the poet captures that time of life when a young person develops into an individual: “When everyone else goes to sleep/the house folds up/The windows shut their eyes./ If you are inside you are automatically folded./If you are outside walking by the folded house/you feel so lonesome you think you are going crazy./You are not going crazy./You are beginning to fold up in your own single way.”

Karen brought us full circle by reading “Yuba City School” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, with its vivid imagery of a child in a classroom who struggles to understand the language of the teacher: “Far up front the teacher makes word-sounds/Jagjit does not know. They float/from her mouth-cave, he says,/in discs, each a different color.”

The group was small, but we enjoyed the poetry so much we ran over our allotted time.

We look forward to seeing old friends and new on December 10 to discuss Poetry and Antiquity and Modernity. And, mark your calendars for spring 2014:

February 11: Poetry and the Law
March 11: Poetry and Hunger and Thirst
April 8: Poetry and Journeys
May 6: Poetry and Birds

Bring a friend and widen the circle!

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all.
St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

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