Poems that change your perspective

Pump House

Ted Kooser in his book 'The Poetry Home Repair Manual' writes about poetry changing the way you view the world. He says "...here's a one-line poem by Joseph Hutchison:

- Artichoke

Oh heart weighted down by so many wings

Could you ever look at an artichoke in the same way after reading that?"

I love that idea. That the poem burrows down beneath the surface, or runs around the back to expose a new perspective, that the poet shows you something that you never saw before, illuminates the mundane. I thank God for poets who can do this. I would love to be able to do that too, I know it will take years at the rate I can study and write poetry.

Anyhow, on the Writer's Alamac Sunday was a poem by Billy Collins entitled 'Water Table'. It struck a chord with me because last week we had our well pump replaced. Throughout the whole ordeal - days without water, without flushing toilets, conversations with the plumbing guys about needs and cost, dealing with them as half way through the job they recommended upgrading our pipes for even more money, feeling trapped by it all - it never once occurred to me to think about it in a poetic way. Never once did my mind think
"...about the enormous body of water
that lies under this house,
cool, unseen reservoir,
silent except for the sounds of dripping
and the incalculable shifting
of all the heavy darkness that it holds." from Billy Collins 'Water Table'

Nope, not once. Sigh.

Even if you don't have well water issues, you really need to hear this poem read by Garrison Keillor. It is simple and beautiful and moving. Oh, I am so glad for poets.


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