‘I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…’ (1)
The Genesee River works its way north from Pennsylvania through the hills, valleys and plateaus of western New York, cascading over falls, sliding over limestone and shale before slicing through Rochester and quietly slipping into the Great Lake, Ontario, at the city’s port. The river is a landmark of our community, inspiring photographers, writers and poets.
(photo by Kathy Davis: blog.life-verses.com)
Tonight, at the Wegman’s Pub* in Perinton, NY, was a night for poetry, inspired not by the river, but by ‘beer and brotherhood’.
‘Let those who are in favor with their stars
of public honor and proud titles boast…’ (2)
To call us ‘Bards’’ would be an exaggeration. We’re just four old guys sitting around a table, enjoying a couple of brews and reading poetry. Four men with three hundred combined years, reading other people’s work, real poets’ work. A beautiful thing!
A tool-maker, a software engineer, a Marine fighter pilot and a screw salesman, reading Blake, Kilmer and Shakespeare between sips of IPAs, stouts and lagers. But not just reading them, actually interpreting them and discussing the role of poetry in our own lives. Believe me, it happened.
From the personification of a tree as a living being to tigers and everlasting love, we brought our favorite poems to the table tonight and read them aloud, in a pub. Our voices rose to the occasion.
Who knew Joyce Kilmer was a man? One of us admitted taking a poetry class. Shakespeare was being Shakespeare, and one of us was never exposed to poetry. Life’s lessons are a result of our own places and times. Growing up in coal country, on a farm or in an urban setting makes a difference in one’s experiences. Sharing those differences is exciting.
‘Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night…’ (3)
When did poetry come into our lives, someone asked. I’m not sure, myself, I suppose it was required reading in school. In 5th grade, I memorized the first few stanzas of Longfellow’s ‘The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’ and still can recite it, although I forget names of people I’ve recently met.
Some find poetry inspirational, I enjoy its imagery. Poets excel at using language to effectively tell their stories. The rhythm of their words completes a process that makes poetry so different from prose. Poems have ‘voices’.
Do you like poetry? Tell us your favorite. By the way, I recommend reading it with beer and friends…
‘The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees…
And the highwayman came riding, riding, riding…’(4)
- Trees by Joyce Kilmer
- Shakespeare’s Sonnet #25
- The Tyger by William Blake
- The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes.
*The Pub at Wegmans in Perinton was very nice. More of an eating environment than a genuine pub, but it was quiet, perfect for our social event. We didnt have to ‘cup’ our ears.