from Mikhail Prishvin, Nature’s Diary, 1925
|Photo by messy cook at wikimedia commons|
How wonderfully it was all arranged that each
Of us had not too long to live. This is one
Of the main snags—the shortness of the day.
The whole wood was whispering, “Dash it, dash it . . .”
What joy—to walk along that path! The snow
Was so fragrant in the sun! What a fish!
Whenever I think of death, the same stupid
Question arises: “What’s to be done?”
As for myself, I can only speak of what
Made me marvel when I saw it for the first time.
I remember my own youth when I was in love.
I remember a puddle rippling, the insects aroused.
I remember our own springtime when my lady told me:
You have taken my best. And then I remember
How many evenings I have waited, how much
I have been through for this one evening on earth.
Mornings Like This: Found Poems. New York: Harper Perennial, 1996. 1.
Today's poem comes from a poetic genre that unapologetically makes borrowing its raison d'être [reason for being, a very handy French phrase when you want to sound cosmopolitan :-)]. As the byline says, this piece is "arranged" by the living poet Annie Dillard. The raw material from which she built the piece, however, is someone else's writing. This kind of poem is called "found poetry"
Found Poetry, as the Wikipedia article defines it, is "a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning. The resulting poem can be defined as either treated: changed in a profound and systematic manner; or untreated: virtually unchanged from the order, syntax and meaning of the original."
Found poems, in other words, take other people's texts and jiggers them into poetry, either by simply altering the line breaks and such, or by mashing together snippets.
This is clearly one of the least intimidating types of poetry to try yourself. Gather and cobble, and voila, poetry.
Is this something you'd be willing to try? Where might you find inspiring source material?