Posted by: jeannineatkins | April 11, 2014

Love Calls us to the Things of this World

Last year for Poetry Month our local library asked some of us to gather to read favorite poems, which made for a most civilized evening. We wanted to do it again, but personal schedules conflicted with the library’s and town meeting. “Maybe we should wait until next year,” I suggested over our email exchanges. Marianne wrote, “I don’t want to wait a year. Tom and I will have it at our house.”

So she set out tea, and I brought banana bread. Seven of us read poems by Marianne Moore, Billy Collins, Dante, Coleridge, Noel Coward, Wislawa Szymborska, and several from Garrison Keiller’s Good Poems. We talked a bit about what we read and poetry in general with short related tangents. Tom mentioned his mother coming from Wales, and how he was stationed for army training there during WWII, and how he’s thought “five thousand times how lucky I was to land there, and how people were touched by the American chap who knew about five Welsh phrases.” The room filled with the gratitude of his memory, and our pleasure in reading together.

Yesterday in front of the post office I saw another neighbor who couldn’t make it to the gathering. He asked me what I’d read, and when I replied “The Writer” by Richard Wilbur, he said he’d just thought of a favorite poem by him while passing a line of laundry hung to dry. Here’s a video of Richard Wilbur reading Love Calls us to the Things of this World.

Richard Wilbur says the poem was inspired by a line from Saint Augustine. He mentions he likes how he managed to use the word “hunks” in the poem, though out of keeping with other words there, “which is precisely why I like it.” And he mentions another poem in which he used the word “reinforced concrete, without that word sinking that particular poem.” It’s a reminder of how we like unity in a poem, but also surprise. A favorite poetry writing prompt is to find or be handed three random or varied words and try to fit them into a poem. This can stretch the mind to a triangle of directions, with something new found in the corners.

For more Poetry Friday posts, please visit Michelle Barnes.



  1. I love his reading of The Writer!

    • He has a great reading voice, and The Writer is one of my favorite poems with its themes of father and daughter, imagination, birds, and old houses.

  2. I love that you have neighbors and local friends that like to hang out together and read poetry. Poetry is often such a solitary experience… which is okay, I guess, as long as it’s not lonely. Maybe that’s why I like Poetry Friday so much!

    • Well the “hanging out with” now seems to be once a year, but still lovely, and nice that if I see them at the post office or somewhere, their faces make me recall some of what we read. I agree, it’s most often a solitary pursuit, but great to join together now and then. Thanks for all you do to make such get togethers happen online!

  3. This is one of my favorite poems. The image created by this line, “The morning air is all awash with angels,” is just stunning; the whole poem amazes me! Thank you for sharing it with us today.

    • Thank you. I was happy to be introduced to it, and happy to share.

  4. Glad you shared the video of his reading, too, Jeannine. It connects to the description of your evening of shared poetry. Voices and angels in the air.

    • I love the common touching the uncommon. Thank you for reading, Linda.

  5. how nice that you have an in-person poetry circle! Loved hearing Richard Wilbur read. Love his protagonist seeing angels in the hung laundry. Wonderful!

    • An annual reading circle, but still treasured. It’s nice to see angels in the neighbor’s yard now!

  6. Thank you for this, today.

    And my wish for someday is that I will live in a neighborhood where we get together to read our favorite poems! Sigh…

    • Thanks, Mary Lee. The poetry circle is just once a year, still it does make for a lovely memories when I run into these neighbors at the post office or library. And it’s also so lucky to have kindred spirits like you online!

  7. I love the element of surprise embedded within the structure. And I love the vision of the annual reading circle, how energizing it must be to be among like-minded individuals.

    • Thank you, Myra. I’m thankful the librarian in our small town got the annual reading started!

  8. “It’s a reminder of how we like unity in a poem, but also surprise.”

    I’d like that in life, too! And the idea of “a most civilized evening” is SO appealing.

    • Here’s to unity, surprise, and an occasional reading of poems in the library basement — with a cup of daffodils and cookies — or in a neighbor’s home, with volumes stacked on the floor and coffee table. With lovely little markers sticking out.

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