In honor of the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, we asked Entropy writers to share with us one of the first poems they ever read that got them excited about what poetry could do or changed the way that they thought about poetry, and one of their own poems that they are particularly proud of, still resonates with them, or an early poem.
Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts was one of the earliest poems that helped shape my conception of what poetry can accomplish in thought, argument, and form.
Musee des Beaux Arts
W. H. Auden
About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
A POEM FROM THE AUTHOR:
This is a poem I wrote many years ago called “Eucaluptus Tree.” It was originally published in “Off the Coast Magazine” in 2011. I remember, at the time, feeling proud because it was the first poem I had written I felt actually had the potential to be something good.
I could cradle a child
In my arms
In the dovetail wedge
Where branches spread
I could hold her
Sing to her
Green and thin as paper
Until she sleeps
And I can sleep
Is but a pool of ink
Resting in white hands.