Everything I need to know I learned from poetry

From William Carlos Williams, I learned how to find what I already had.

From Rumi, I learned how to keep searching for it anyway.

From Dickinson, I learned that certainty is death-in-life.

From Whitman, I learned that Creation doesn’t require a God.

From Neruda, I learned that one can be entirely wrong and still be right.

From Francis Ponge, I learned that radical empathy and clinical analysis make good bedfellows.

From Lucille Clifton, I learned that four or five well-chosen words can punch harder than an entire blood-stained epic.

From Ryōkan, I learned that poets must never be too old for children’s games.

From Miguel Hernandez, I learned that onion tears are as good as real ones.

From the Bible, I learned that thoughts are better when they repeat once in a higher key.

From Ai, I learned that even the worst, most evil men and women can still be beautiful.

From Issa, I learned that a poet’s first duty is compassion.

From John Clare, I learned that siding with nature can get you locked away.

From Robinson Jeffers, I learned that weather is the best muse.

From Vicente Aleixandre, I learned that eternity devours us moment by moment.

From Mary Oliver, I learned why a question mark is shaped like an open mouth.

From Charles Simic, I learned how to listen to stones.

12 Replies to “Everything I need to know I learned from poetry”

    1. Hey, thanks. I was thinking I gave Clare short shrift, since that was a lesson more from his life than his work, but I was going with the “first thought = best thought” principle in compiling the list.

  1. I really want this as a broadside, as a poster, as a slide presentation, as a video, as a series of images and words and sounds and music and voices in which I can immerse myself. Please. :)

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