I think it was Borges who used to remind us that poetry began as an oral tradition and that in these days of print it is still meant to be read out loud. This hit home for me recently when a friend recorded one of my poems and another read a work of mine at a funeral service. Even though I had birthed the poems they read, the work gained new dimension for me in the delivery of these good poets with their different styles of delivery. Some people simply have a special gift - not only for writing poetry - but for reading it out loud. One such - a favorite - is English poet, David Whyte. In the video below Whyte recites and interprets Rilke's The Swan and Walcott's Love After Love. Though you may have read these two much-loved poems many times, I think you'll find they've gained a new depth for you and a new joy after hearing David Whyte.
For those who may not be familiar with these two poems, here are the texts to read:
This laboring of ours with all that remains undone,
as if still bound to it,
is like the lumbering gait of the swan.
And then our dying—releasing ourselves
from the very ground on which we stood—
is like the way he hesitantly lowers himself
into the water. It gently receives him,
and, gladly yielding, flows back beneath him,
as wave follows wave,
while he, now wholly serene and sure,
with regal composure,
allows himself to glide
translated from the German by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows (A Year of Readings: The Best of Rilke)
- Rainer Maria Rilke
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
- Derek Walcott
© 2015, introduction, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day), All rights reserved