Monday, April 12, 2021

NPM Spring Cleaning Day 12, Talking Yourself into a Better Frame of Mind



I've had this poem open on my desktop for a while, and it occurred to me recently that Auden might be trying to talk himself into an ability to cope with a situation where he felt rejected. I often use writing this way, trying to convince my heart and brain of something I'm not quite ready to accept. See what you think, and especially in the last stanza:

The More Loving One

W.H. Auden

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well

That, for all they care, I can go to hell,

But on earth indifference is the least

We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn

With a passion for us we could not return?

If equal affection cannot be,

Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am

Of stars that do not give a damn,

I cannot, now I see them, say

I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die

I should learn to look at an empty sky

And feel its total dark sublime

Though this might take me a little time.

I tried to think of some other examples of poems where you get the feeling the poet is trying to convince him/herself of something, and I thought of Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art," one of my favorite poems. And then I thought of this one I wrote recently. I went through The Artist's Way with a group in the first three months of this year, and when in our last meeting we were supposed to share something, I tried to write about an idea that had struck me in the book. Julia Cameron says that we need to cultivate approval of ourselves, rather than waiting for approval from others. I've been thinking about it a lot, and I think I'm making some progress even, but when I tried to write about it, here's what came out:



I approve of myself
Gold star for me
A whole stack of presents
Under the tree
Prizes and accolades
Piled in piles
Backpats unlimited
High fives and smiles.

I don’t need your approval.
I’ve got my own.
I like my own company.
When I’m alone,
I’m perfectly happy.
All hail to me!
I look in the mirror
And like what I see.

I can write this stuff
All about how much
I like being me.
It would be even better
If it were true.
Sadly it isn’t.
I wish I were you.


This is the ninth year of the Progressive Poem! See the schedule below to find where to go for today's line and to see who's participating this year.

April 1 Kat Apel at Kat Whiskers
2 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
3 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
4 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
5 Irene Latham at Live your Poem
6 Jan Godown Annino at BookseedStudio
7 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
8 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
9 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche
10 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
11 Buffy Silverman
12 Janet Fagel at Reflections on the Teche
13 Jone Rush MacCulloch
14 Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living
15 Wendy Taleo at Tales in eLearning
16 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
17 Tricia Stohr Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
19 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link
20 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
21 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
22 Ruth Hersey at There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town
23 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse
24 Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference
25 Shari Daniels at Islands of my Soul
26 Tim Gels at Yet There is Method at
27 Rebecca Newman
28 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
29 Christie Wyman at Wondering and Wondering
30 Michelle Kogan at More Art 4 All


Heidi Mordhorst said...

Ruth, I came to comment on your PoFri post, but this one is much more interesting to me at the moment. I'm working with the idea that all poets in all their poems are asking some version the essential question "WHO AM I in relation to the world?", that the urge to poetry is fundamentally a self-ish one, which in the best of circumstances produces good outcomes for others. Your gold star poem is wonderful in so many ways, but especially in its wryness. Sometimes I wish I were you too!

Linda B said...

I read Auden's poem & yours, Ruth, making me both wonder at the opinions going back & forth, maybe a human puzzle only? This line from Auden feels real at the time: "Let the more loving one be me." but then he turns more to the truth? And yours, too, has such an honest voice, a yearning, but then changes, too, at the end toward truth. Animals, unlike us, appear content to be who they are. Our thinking gets us in trouble, doesn't it? Thanks for considering the questions!

Michelle Kogan said...

What a turning line at the end of your poem, but maybe those of us who question ourselves are still pondering on others which I think is a good thing. Thanks also for the Auden poem–I hope the stars are always there for us to look up into…