And Now for Something Completely Different

One of things I love about poetry is how, on any given day, it can offer something different, something new.

At work today, glancing from my computer screen across my desk to my bulletin board, I caught sight of one of the many poems tacked there, a poem I know by heart.


It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That's why we wake
and look out -- no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

William Stafford

I’ve thought about this poem for many years, while running, while climbing, while falling asleep at night, while walking Arnie through the fields across the street from our house. I’ve even written about it here. But until this afternoon, I’d never seen the words “look out” as a warning or threat, I’d never read the phrase “wake and look out” with a sense of urgency or terror, as I did today.

Not that I was especially fearful today, not that this is the right interpretation of the poem…it’s just different, and I find that difference interesting.

The world of poetry, though, doesn't always translate to the real world, or, well, to my real world. I don't see things as objectively; religious differences anger me, bad fashion upsets me, even strange accents make my skin crawl.

I'm far from perfect; we all are.

After thinking about this for a little while, then surfing over to a couple other sites, I saw a reference on LibertyLondonGirl's blog that made everything click into place:

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio,” said Hamlet, “Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

And likewise, mine.

Hmmm...so even as our great bard wrote "common" poetry and plays in the face of great criticism, he taught his critics to be tolerant.

Maybe one day I'll learn to be as tolerant as the British monarchy.

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