I always swore I didn’t like poetry. I tend to like my art accessible—I don’t want to grasp or reach, which makes me either lazy or dumb.
Thankfully, my friends Aarthi (the source of all my intellectual expansion) and D. were going to the 92Y this week to see the poet Mary Oliver. I bought a ticket mostly to see them, and a teensy bit to double-check my take on poetry.
Embarrassingly, I was not familiar with Mary Oliver. It’s not embarrassing because I think everyone should know poets, but I have two degrees in English. You’d think I’d at least know something about the woman considered America’s greatest poet. Or that I’d have read Ulysses. Wrong on both counts!
Below are the first few lines of a poem that made the audience sigh when Oliver said she was going to read it. I dare you to dislike poetry if this is what the art form is:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
[It continues but I’m not sure the rules around posting an entire poem.]