5 Star Fridays · Literary History · Reader's Advisory

Hope and Dreams of Poetry

While I’m helplessly drawn to the new and shiny, for this Five Star Friday, I’m recommending a soothing  revisit to the classic and timeless verse of liteary royalty such as Emily Dickinson and Lanston Hughes

Dickinson’s, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers,” is a tonic in times of stress and uncertainty.

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
Dickinson.gif
And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.

I still wonder at the balance of complexity and simplicity in her work.  On the surface, her verses are constructed with a pleasing choice of words and descriptive imagery.  But the startling first line reveals her genius.  Had she simply said, hope is a bird, the poem would have been so much less compelling. The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson groups her works into four broad themes: Life, Love, Nature, and Time and Eternity.

Langston Hughes and Dickinson are of different eras and circumstances, but both used relatively simple language that evokes deeper and layered meanings. Unlike Dickinson who worked in obscurity, Hughes was a public figure and drew on experiences of people and life in bustling cities such as New York or Chicago.  He documented how racial langston-hughes-9780756509934discrimination beats down and how music lifts up.

Many are probably familiar with his poem “Dreams” – Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. But its important to explore the work specific to

As an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance, Langston wrote of jazz, black life and culture with pride.  Read more in Langston Hughes: the voice of Harlem, a compilation by Brenda Haugen.

Fortunately, there are a variety of poets and poetry collections available to satisfy the interests of all readers.

the-art-of-losingThe Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing; edited by Kevin Young.

The Best American Poetry 2015, guest editor Sherman Alexie, David
Lehman, editorthe-best-american-poetry-2015-9781476708195_hr

 

 

Happy reading, Susan C.

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