Monday, August 23, 2010

Upon Reflection

The March / April issue of The Writer's Chronicle has a great interview with Gregory Orr. One of his responses struck me especially forcefully. When asked which poets had shaped him as a writer, which ones he felt a kinship with, Orr said: "I have this theory that we're looking for stuff that's going to save our lives: poems and songs we love so much that they're a key to our own being. When we find those poems or songs, and a lot of them are lyric poems but sometimes they're songs, we never forget the first time we heard that song. When we find those things, we're finding a kind of key to our own being. If we put together the fifteen songs and poems that we love most in the world and look at them, it's like looking in a mirror that shows your face; it's more one that's showing your soul."

That got me thinking about which 15 songs and poems might reflect an image of my soul. I ended up making a list of 10 of each:

Songs                                                                       Poems    

Bohemian Rhapsody—Queen                                Wreck of the Deutschland—Gerard Manley Hopkins
We Are the Champions—Queen                            Adam's Curse—W.B. Yeats       
Here You Come Again—Dolly Parton                   Facts About the Moon—Dorianne Laux
Music Again—Adam Lambert                               The Peace of Wild Things—Wendell Berry
Foot Loose—Kenny Loggins                                 Valediction Forbidding Mourning—John Donne
Sea Cruise—Frankie Ford                                      Fragments—Stephen Dobyns
Me and Bobby McGee—Janis Joplin                     Let Evening Come—Jane Kenyon
Maggie May–Rod Stewart                                      Funeral Blues—W.H. Auden
We Didn't Start the Fire—Billy Joel                   After Making Love We Hear Footsteps–Galway Kinnell
Could This Be Magic—The Dubs                          Elegy for Jane—Theodore Roethke

After compiling this list, I looked into the mirror and saw the reflection of my soul. Oh dear. What does yours look like?

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  1. Diane, you should wear VERTICAL stripes. They'll make you look so much taller.

  2. I thought I looked pretty tall there. In a sense, I am wearing vertical stripes also.

  3. Gregory Orr is so very inspiring. I heard him speak once at Writers@Work, once at an AWP conference, once at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. One of his poems which has been a "key to our being" for my own life is his "Investigation" which ends, "Wouldn't anything / cry like that, / pierced to the heart?" Thank you for drawing attention to him, Diane. The more people who read his fine work, the better for poetry and poets.

  4. Thanks so much for this post. Love your lists and the picture. I'll be thinking about my own top 10 as well.

  5. Oddly, I found that the songs came to me faster than the poems. I added the bars to the picture and am feeling quite clever.

  6. Love the list idea and your lists! Will ponder my own...over next few days.

  7. What a great idea, Diane! Thanks for another thought-provoking post.

    After much reflection, here are my lists:


    1. MacArthur Park (James Webb/Richard Harris Singing)
    2. Dust in the Wind (Kansas)
    3. Hosea (Hymn)
    4. All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan)
    5. The Stranger Song (Leonard Cohen)
    6. Till It Shines (Bob Seeger)
    7. Still the Same (Bob Seeger)
    8. We Are the Champions (Queen)
    9. When I Paint My Masterpiece (Bob Dylan)
    10. Back on the Chain Gang (Pretenders)


    1. Four Quartets –“Little Gidding” (T. S. Eliot)
    2. The Stolen Child (William Butler Yeats)
    3. Fern Hill (Dylan Thomas)
    4. Brown Penny (William Butler Yeats)
    5. The Song of Wandering Aengus (William Butler Yeats)
    6. God’s Grandeur (Gerard Manley Hopkins)
    7. Pied beauty (Gerard Manley Hopkins)
    8. Lucky Life (Gerald Stern)
    9. St. Peter and the Angel (Denise Levertov)
    10. Last Lines (Emily Brontë)

  8. Great list, Adele! You should also post it at your blog.


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