This month I’m celebrating National Poetry Month, an observance inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 to celebrate poetry’s vital place in our culture. “The poet is the priest of the invisible,” Wallace Stevens wrote, and each day I’ll share a favorite poem of mine that mediates between me and the unseen Mystery in which we live and move and have our being. I hope you’ll be inspired to celebrate the poets, and their poems, that have inspired you.
To introduce the series, I begin with a poem I discovered many years ago, while in high school, that describes much of my life’s work ever since – the seeking, from my little perch in life, to find meaningful connections with the creation in which I live. It’s a seeking that continues hopefully, though I expect it will never be completely satisfied.
“A Noiseless Patient Spider,” by Walt Whitman
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.