A poem on the page is a script for an event that hasn’t happened yet. It’s an invitation to an ephemeral experience that comes to life when you lift the poem from the page with your eyes, and mix it with your awareness, phrase by phrase. As attention drops down the ladder of lines, something mysterious accrues. You can feel it.
Poetry originated well before the written word, as a spoken art. To carry, a poem had to be memorable. The sound and sense of a poem naturally became concentrated, spare, compelling—or it was soon forgotten. When you pick a poem that you find intriguing, and say it aloud, the experience releases that timeless intensity. What you hear changes as the sounds resonate and return to your ears and mind. Those nearby can feel it too.
You can rely on a poem. A good poem comes along with you, the meaning changing as you evolve through the vagaries of experience. Of course, not just any poem will do. Finding the poems that hold you steady amid the profusion can be like looking for sea shells, beach glass, or fossil shark teeth by the ocean. Keep your eyes open—your poems will find you.
Visit a few poems over and over; let them vibrate in your chest. Or collect and consider a great many poems. The practice is clarifying; you can know yourself.