Poetry For Tragedies

Poetry, I think, is akin to prayer, something returned to again and again and never truly understood. Also, like prayer, poetry can be a response to tragedy when opinions are inappropriate and platitudes unhelpful. Here are a few I found yesterday and seem appropriate:

A few lines from Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” which is something like Psalm, a cry to God:

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain

Adrienne Rich’s “What Kind of Times are These,” which seems to me to be about finding hope and meaning where you can.

And finally, I love these hopeful lines from W. Merwin’s Thanks

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

 

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