friday feast: sing your own song

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (“Self Reliance”)

from davidezartz’s photostream.

by William Stafford

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off — they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. “I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said. “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

William Stafford has been my saving grace lately. I needed to be reminded to value “my own way of looking at things,” and to write from a place of authenticity. The competition is fierce, distractions abound; it’s almost impossible not to feel invisible or insignificant in a society obsessed with fame and celebrity. Whenever self judgment or self doubt impedes progress, I will try even harder to sing my own song. After all, I’m the only one who knows all the words by heart. 

by William Stafford

 “The Child Poet,” by Shelley Lane.

Look: no one ever promised for sure
that we would sing. We have decided
to moan. In a strange dance that
we don’t understand till we do it, we
have to carry on.

Just as in sleep you have to dream
the exact dream to round out your life,
so we have to live that dream into stories
and hold them close at you, close at the
edge we share, to be right.

We find it an awful thing to meet people,
serious or not, who have turned into vacant
effective people, so far lost that they
won’t believe their own feelings
enough to follow them out.

The authentic is a line from one thing
along to the next; it interests us.
Strangely, it relates to what works,
but is not quite the same. It never
swerves for revenge,

Or profit, or fame: it holds
together something more than the world,
this line. And we are your wavery
efforts at following it. Are you coming?
Good: now it is time.

~ from The Way It is: New and Selected Poems, Graywolf Press, 1998.

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is at Becky’s Book Reviews.

May your muse always be with you!

“I write first drafts with only the good angel on my shoulder, the voice that approves of everything I write. This voice doesn’t ask questions like, Is this good? Is this a poem? Are you a poet? I keep this voice at a distance, letting only the good angel whisper to me: Trust yourself. You can’t worry a poem into existence.” ~ Georgia Heard

“Don’t worry about not measuring up to other writers. No one has the same genetic makeup, the same life experiences as you. No one else sees the world quite the way you do, or can express it quite the same way. You’re already the world’s foremost expert on you.” ~ Charles Webb