Last week’s post was a bit of a passionate rant about how important it is to share poetry, and to do so in ways that are pleasurable.
All week I have been wondering why I didn’t mention a little piece of research that I came across during my doctoral studies and which I often cite. So, here it is: reading poetry does magic stuff to your brain that reading prose doesn’t. In short, a study using fMri (a brain scan technology) found that when participants read their favourite poetry the parts of their brain related to memory and physical reaction (like shivers down the spine) were activated. For a better explanation, you can see this news report here or, if you want the more detailed scientific paper, you can search an academic library for the full article by Zeman, Milton, Smith and Rylance (abstract here) .
I love it when science proves what we poetry lovers already know – that poetry is a whole body, whole self activity. Because while we don’t need scientific proof, that evidence is great for sharing with poetry doubters.
And, while I must confess that I have not written a poem of my own this week, I figure this is a good time to share a poem which definitely gives me all the feelings.
A Quoi Bon Dire
by Charlotte Mew
Seventeen years ago you said
Something that sounded like Good-bye;
And everybody thinks that you are dead,
So I, as I grow stiff and cold
To this and that say Good-bye too;
And everybody sees that I am old
And one fine morning in a sunny lane
Some boy and girl will meet and kiss and swear
That nobody can love their way again
While over there
You will have smiled, I shall have tossed your hair.
Why this poem? It is a little sad, but, for me, it warms my heart with its observations (even celebration) of love, and how we can hold that love long after someone has left our lives. It may be a romantic love, but in my case, this week marks anniversaries of two losses – my sister and my father – and it doesn’t matter that are gone six years and one year respectively – I love them just as much now as I did when I could see them.
I’m off to read more poetry and more thoughts about poetry because today is Poetry Friday. The roundup is being hosted Jama So if you want to activate your brain, head over there and do some reading of your own:)