For the Love of Poetry
By: Serena M. Agusto-Cox
Reading is most often a family affair. Families sit together, curled under blankets with open books. Young kids are read to, on an almost nightly basis, and kids are reading to their parents as they age. My own parents may have read, but I never saw it as a kid. Now, looking back, I wonder how I’ve become the reader I am, not to mention a great lover of poetry, a form many readers are fearful of trying in the first place.
I suppose it was my Nana, my homework sounding board, who introduced me to the classics, like Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and Gaston Leroux. She was a petite woman, who would quietly steer you in the right direction, and her gentle nudging was almost imperceptible. The first collection of poems she gave me, Best Loved Poems to Read Again & Again compiled by Mary Sanford Laurence, came on Valentine’s Day. I was 15 and had been writing my own poems since age 12. Nana had been the only one who knew.
It’s a great starter collection of poems, including some of the greats from Percy Bysshe Shelley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Oscar Wilde. Imagine reading these poems as a teen, reading how the fountains and rivers mingle in Shelley’s “Love’s Philosophy.” I remember reading this poem, which is in the “Affection” section of the book, and thinking how everything in the world is connected! And even though it’s all connected, there are still differences that make the world and us stand out – the mountains are tall and the rivers are winding. And yet, while this poem appears to be about affection, it also presents a desire to be loved, and don’t we all want that?
I still have this great collection. It sits on the top shelf of my poetry cabinet. I still have all the little scraps of paper stuck in the pages of poems that I love. I’ve never removed them, even as I return to the book and read the poems again and again.
The collection may be without its dust jacket, thanks to several moves after leaving my parents’ house behind after college, but it is in well-preserved condition. Where does that love of poetry begin? It begins in the first poem you read and connect with – maybe because someone you love gave you the poem, or maybe because it reminds you of someone you love. It doesn’t matter where the love of poetry begins, but that it does.
Thank you for sharing, Serena!
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