Lately, CM’s been blogging about DH Lawrence.

Today, I’m writing the chapter where my GOB heroine goes out to sea for the first time in her life. And I have this poem running through my mind. Although it’s from a different era and place entirely, the sensation it describes is universal.

By Emily Dickinson:

Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea,
Past the houses — past the headlands —
Into deep Eternity —

Bred as we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?

Are you inspired by poetry? Care to share some?

12 comments to “Chapter and Verse”

  1. beverley
    · April 29th, 2007 at 11:11 am · Link

    I read this in high school in English Lit and fell in love:

    The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth.

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same.

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

  2. Sara Lindsey
    · April 29th, 2007 at 11:50 am · Link

    Alive Together – Lisel Mueller

    Speaking of marvels, I am alive
    together with you, when I might have been
    alive with anyone under the sun,
    when I might have been Abelard’s woman
    or the whore of a Renaissance pop
    or a peasant wife with not enough food
    and not enough love, with my children
    dead of the plague. I might have slept
    in an alcove next to the man
    with the golden nose, who poked it
    into the business of stars,
    or sewn a starry flag
    for a general with wooden teeth.
    I might have been the exemplary Pocahontas
    or a woman without a name
    weeping in Master’s bed
    for my husband, exchanged for a mule,
    my daughter, lost in a drunken bet.
    I might have been stretched on a totem pole
    to appease a vindictive god
    or left, a useless girl-child,
    to die on a cliff. I like to think
    I might have been Mary Shelley
    in love with a wrong-headed angel,
    or Mary’s friend. I might have been you.
    This poem is endless, the odds against us are endless,
    our chances of being alive together
    statistically nonexistent;
    still we have made it, alive in a time
    when rationalists in square hats
    and hatless Jehovah’s Witnesses
    agree it is almost over,
    alive with our lively children
    who–but for endless ifs–
    might have missed out on being alive
    together with marvels and follies
    and longings and lies and wishes
    and error and humor and mercy
    and journeys and voices and faces
    and colors and summers and mornings
    and knowledge and tears and chance.

  3. Sara Lindsey
    · April 29th, 2007 at 11:57 am · Link

    Here’s another one where the imagery is so, so gorgeous:

    Moon Fishing – Lisel Mueller

    When the moon was full they came to the water
    some with pitchforks, some with rakes,
    some with sieves and ladles,
    and one with a silver cup.

    And they fished til a traveler passed them and said,
    to catch the moon you must let your women
    spread their hair on the water —
    even the wily moon will leap to that bobbing
    net of shimmering threads,
    gasp and flop till its silver scales
    lie black and still at your feet.”

    And they fished with the hair of their women
    till a traveler passed them and said,
    do you think the moon is caught lightly,
    with glitter and silk threads?
    You must cut out your hearts and bait your hooks
    with those dark animals;
    what matter you lose your hearts to reel in your dream?”

    And they fished with their tight, hot hearts
    till a traveler passed them and said,
    what good is the moon to a heartless man?
    Put back your hearts and get on your knees
    and drink as you never have,
    until your throats are coated with silver
    and your voices ring like bells.”

    And they fished with their lips and tongues
    until the water was gone
    and the moon had slipped away
    in the soft, bottomless mud.

    I won’t post it, but my favorite Lisel Mueller poem is Why We Tell Stories. Here’s a link:

  4. Sara Lindsey
    · April 29th, 2007 at 11:59 am · Link

    Of course, the link didn’t work…
    But it’s on

  5. Kelly Krysten
    · April 29th, 2007 at 3:56 pm · Link

    I really like this poem. It reminds me of what’s important when falling in love, or rather what my heroes should be focusing on in my WIP’s.
    Sonnet 14 – If thou must love me, let it be for nought by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    If thou must love me, let it be for nought
    Except for love’s sake only. Do not say
    ‘I love her for her smile—her look—her way
    Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
    That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
    A sense of pleasant ease on such a day’—
    For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
    Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
    May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
    Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry,—
    A creature might forget to weep, who bore
    Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
    But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
    Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.

  6. Beth
    · April 30th, 2007 at 6:48 am · Link

    To his Coy Mistress

    by Andrew Marvell

    Had we but world enough, and time,
    This coyness, lady, were no crime.
    We would sit down and think which way
    To walk, and pass our long love’s day;
    Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
    Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
    Of Humber would complain. I would
    Love you ten years before the Flood;
    And you should, if you please, refuse
    Till the conversion of the Jews.
    My vegetable love should grow
    Vaster than empires, and more slow.
    An hundred years should go to praise
    Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
    Two hundred to adore each breast,
    But thirty thousand to the rest;
    An age at least to every part,
    And the last age should show your heart.
    For, lady, you deserve this state,
    Nor would I love at lower rate.

    This is just part of it. My hero imagines every ton gentlemen quoting this to his wife while he’s away. Poor besotted fool 😉

  7. CM
    · April 30th, 2007 at 10:44 am · Link

    Oddly enough, I’m not particularly inspired by poetry. Music tends to be what really gets under my skin. Different books definitely have different musical themes.

  8. Lady Leigh
    · April 30th, 2007 at 11:44 am · Link

    I’m a poetry lover, to be sure. I read some everyday. Here’s a short poem- perfect for this time of the year. Rumi is one of my favs.

    Birdsong brings relief to my longing
    I am just as ecstatic as they are,
    but with nothing to say.
    Please, Universal Soul,
    say something,
    sing something,
    through me.

  9. Tessa Dare
    · April 30th, 2007 at 3:53 pm · Link

    What lovely selections, ladies! Very inspiring.

    Bev, I also love Frost – particularly his darker poems on nature. “Nature,” for one, and “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

    Leigh, I did a paper on Rumi my senior year of high school and have treasured his poetry ever since. The imagery is so spare and sensual and startling. Gotta love those mystics.

    Gillian and Kelly – thanks for sharing those love poems! I haven’t written any characters yet with particular devotion to poetry, but that’s something to keep in mind for the future. My current hero is more into Adam Smith than Shakespeare or Shelley!

    Sara – that’s a new poet for me, and I *love* both of those! I’ll have to seek out more by her. Thanks!

  10. Sara Lindsey
    · April 30th, 2007 at 4:31 pm · Link

    For the Rumi lovers – actually, for all lovers of words, you should check out Jeanine Payer’s jewelry. ( or The Giving Tree Gallery) She engraves gorgeous quotes on silver and gold – I am completely obessed with her. For my college graduation, my mom had her custom make me a bracelet with the Shakespeare quote: “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
    Very, very appropriate!

  11. Ericka Scott
    · April 30th, 2007 at 8:40 pm · Link

    Like CM . . .I’m mostly just inspired by music. The only poems that seemed to touch me were Bilbo Baggins poems from Lord Of The Rings when I read them in 7th grade (a long, long time ago)

  12. Christina
    · April 30th, 2007 at 9:50 pm · Link

    I am totally inspired by music. I do have pieces of poetry I love like Bonnie George Campbell and Sir Walter Raliegh’s The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepard of course I like Marlowe’s The Passionate Shepherd To His Love.

    To much to put in a response. Lovely pieces gals.