Wednesday, September 09, 2009

i thank you God, for most this amazing day

this is a photograph of the betsy ross bridge
taken from the deck of the battleship new jersey
by my friend daniel m.,
who says 90% of being a great photographer
is being in the right place at the right time!
ahhh, poetry.  that bane of freshman english students everywhere, and a curious topic that seems to polarize many.  i, for one, love poetry, and find it emerging from every nook and cranny of my life, words and sounds unwillingly joined together to say something (for utility's sake) or to say something (for beauty's sake).  it is quite common for me to be going along the regular mundane business of my daily life only to be stopped suddenly - my heart missing a beat - by the poetry of daily communication.  like last night, for example, when i was driving home from some meetings at church and i was listening to the yankees game on the am radio station, and john sterling, the play-by-play guy who tells you about each pitch, whether its a ball or strike and so forth, said that one of the players was, "mesmerized by that pitch."  now, he didn't have to say that.  he could have easily said that it was a ball.  outside.  the count is now 2 balls and one strike.  but that's not what he said.  for some reason, the need for clear communication wedded itself to an equal need for expressive imagery, and listeners all over the tri-state area were given the gift of an image of a batter mesmerized by a pitch, as if the curveball were somehow enchanted.  you see what i mean?  hid away in the mundane corners of our lives, even on our am radio dials, we can find poetry.  so, even if you are one of those who never "got" poetry in school and think that there must be a better way to say something (if you have something to say), i want to share with you today what is unmistakably my favorite poem.  it is written by the late e e cummings, who as you may know, shares a similar view of orthography with yours truly.  it is a poem that, like scripture itself, has time and time again roused my soul from sleep and lethargy and apathy to a full sense of being alive again.  the first line has become my most useful mantra for prayer, putting me in a place of gratitude and humility before the one who gives each day to us as a gift.  and so, enjoy it.  and by that i mean, don't just read it quickly.  get up right now and get a cup of coffee.  or tea.  or anything that you drink slowly.  then sit down in a comfortable spot and think about the words as you read them.  (to hear the author himself reading them, click here)  why are the words sometimes in an order that you might not put them in?  what is cummings saying here?  what sense does the poem leave you with?  you see, poetry, like chocolate or a good cigar, is something that is meant to be savored, slowly, turned over and considered from every angle.  it takes time.  so, here you go:  my favorite poem.  may you be, in some way, mesmerized.

i thank You God for most this amazing day
e e cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing

day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

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