Red buds in mud / of rhubarb bed / my heart leaps
How to express that little rush of hope you feel at the first glimpse of springtime growth? If you’re into haiku poetry, it’s in as few words as possible, as I tried to do in the first line of this piece.
“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words,” said poet Robert Frost.
Yes, April is Poetry Month, and the League of Canadian Poets invites us to celebrate it this year with the theme of resilience. Not much is more resilient than rhubarb!
What does it mean to be resilient? It means being buried under two feet of snow, somehow surviving in frozen mud, then shrugging off the snow and growing back better.
“Resilience is geographical, spiritual, historical,” reads a burst of prose on Poets.ca. “It’s the fight against climate change, the inner battle with mental health, the outcry for human rights and an end to systemic racism…. Resilience is the courage to start each day anew.”
And of course, it is the courage to live through a pandemic. To reach out to someone in need. To insist on dealing with the climate, pollution, injustice. To start each day anew even when you’re sick and tired of staying home, or just plain sick and tired.
That’s how I felt this morning. Just dispirited. The weather’s been weird. The news has been full of shootings. More virulent viruses are coming our way.
Then I saw the new rhubarb shoots. And I realized that Poetry Month begins tomorrow. My heart lifted. We have such a legacy from our poets over the ages. We often quote them, without even realizing we’re doing it. The world is rich in poets, and oh, do we need them! Here are three that inspired me today.
Alal ad-din Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet who is today counted as the most popular poet in the USA (a close second is Amanda Gorman, 22-year-old Youth National Poet Laureate who amazed us with her poem, The Hill We Climb, at President Joe Biden’s inauguration).
Rumi’s poetry is lyrical. It’s all about love and resilience: “Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” Or as my mother said, “What goes around, comes around.” (No, Justin Timberlake did not invent that saying.)
Long before Leonard Cohen, Rumi wrote, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.”
And he advises audacity. “Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you!” Yeah! Let’s save the world!
Li Po, or if in China, Li Bai, lived in the 700s during the Tang Empire. His poetry spans friendship and death, trees and wine, love and politics and extends to a poetic relationship with the world.
His poems can plunge one into deep meditation:
“Chuang Tzu in dream became a butterfly, / And the butterfly became Chuang Tzu at waking. / Which was the real – the butterfly or the man? / Who can tell the end of the endless changes of things?”
Or listen to this one line pointing the way to joyfully losing oneself: “We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains.”
“This is my letter to the world, / That never wrote to me.”
That is what Emily Dickinson wrote about her poetry. In Amherst, Massachusetts, she died in 1886, age 55, having written some 1,800 poems, mostly unpublished. She lived in isolation, yet she persevered with, it seems, an abiding hope that one day the world would read her “letter.” Not until the 1950s were her poems published as she wrote them.
“’Hope’ is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops – at all -”
Would she have persevered through a pandemic? Surely. I would bet on it.
Poet in the Townships, right now. I hear Angela is planning something very special for this Poetry Month. More news to follow.
If you are having trouble making an appointment for your Covid-19 vaccination, the Centre d’action bénévole du Haut-Saint-François (CAB) offers to help. Just contact Diane Grenier at 819-560-8540 x 9.
The Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network has just published a two-volume anthology of 120 historical articles and 150 images, in both colour and black-and-white, selected from the past 20 years of the QAHN publication, Quebec Heritage News. The volumes are encased in an illustrated slipcase. For more information, visit qahn.org.
Anglican. Bishop Bruce Myers continues to offer Home Prayers at 10:30 a.m. Sundays on Facebook, and at quebec.anglican.ca (Worship Videos). Info: 819-887-6802, or quebec.anglican.ca.
United. Home worship services are available for pickup Fridays after 2 p.m. at Sawyerville United Church (box on top of freezer in porch), at Trinity United Church (in plastic bag at basement door). To receive services by mail or email, or for pastoral care, contact Rev Tami Spires at 819-452-3685 or email@example.com. Facebook info: United Eaton Valley Pastoral Charge.
Baptist. In-person Sunday services have begun again for 25 or fewer persons with Covid-19 protocols in place (wash hands at the entrance, maintain a 2-metre distance from others, use assigned seating, wear masks, do not sing, do not shake hands, and leave via the exit door). The service in French is at 9 a.m., and in English at 11 a.m.
A mask is provided for persons needing one, and a list of all the attendees is kept, in case of infection. Persons with flu symptoms are asked not to attend services. The pastor’s message is also available on YouTube: For the link, contact Pastor Michel Houle: 819-239-8818.
Do you have news to share? Call 819-300-2374 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by April 5 for publication April 14; by April 19 for April 28.
Red buds in mud / of rhubarb bed / my heart leaps