Thoughtful Thursday: Looking for hope (giveaway)

The Collected Poetry of William Butler YeatsI confess it’s been hard for me to escape from the world lately, whether via reading, my own writing, work, or just the mundanity of everyday life (hard, for instance, to read social media from people in my town upset about lacking power for two days after a recent windstorm, given events elsewhere). So when it came time to come up with another St. Patrick’s Day post and prompt, the usual lightheartedness (PubsShamrocks! Snakes!) of prior posts felt a little off-tune.

One of my earlier posts noted how I often think of one of my favorite poets around this time — William Butler Yeats — and went on to springboard off of  “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.”

But peace has not been “dropping slow” of late, and so instead I find my mind turning to another of his works, “Easter 1916.” In there he writes of how his viewpoints toward those involved in the Easter Uprising had been transformed, how, for instance, someone he’d thought a “vainglorious lout” had now been “changed in his turn” thanks to his sacrifice. And I think of a man who was a comedian, who performed on Dancing with the Stars, who once dropped his trousers for a laugh, and how that same man is standing now in his office, in a shelter, on the streets, exhorting his people to resist the dark tide that seeks to overwhelm them even as the bombs fall around him, even as assassination squads come for him, one after the other. And I think how he has been “transformed utterly” and how, in him and in his people, “A terrible beauty is born.”

So rather than ask about some relative trivialities (relative only), or ask how you “escape” (though I think the idea of fantasy/sci-fi as “escapist” has always been reductionist), I’ll ask you instead where you turn for solace or inspiration when the “world is too much with us” and we’re surrounded by “confused alarms of struggle and flight.”  For me, as you might have guessed, it’s often poetry — there’s something in its cadences and sounds, its concise profundity and shared commiseration, the connection to the natural world, and the ease with which I can dip in and out, that lends itself to consolation. So I’m more often nowadays pulling down from the shelf my Yeats, my Olds, my Oliver and Gluck, as well as downloading more new collections.

And what about you? What forms, what titles, what scenes give you some hope for better days as we celebrate a holiday so near the turn from winter to spring?

One commenter wins a book from our stacks (U.S.A addresses), or a $5 Amazon gift card which perhaps you’ll put toward a book of poetry such as the one linked in the image above.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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  1. Paul Connelly /

    The first poet that, really, startled me into an enjoyment of poetry was Stephen Crane. Who had some caustic things to say about war, in a very terse style.

    Some other poets, besides the ones you mention, that I also recommend: May Sarton, Mark Strand, and Theodore Roethke. And a little further back, Wallace Stevens and T. S. Eliot. And way back, Sappho.

  2. I turn to Mary Oliver for comfort.

    Lately, I’ve just been trying to walk more. Nature, and a place away from words, gives me the most comfort, short term.

  3. John Smith /

    Reading with foam earplugs is a help and a succor.

    Regarding Zelenskyy, I ordered and received all three seasons of his show “Sluga Naroda” on DVD (they look like they’re pirate DVDs, but maybe medium-grade to high-grade ones), and I will soon receive a US DVD produced circa 2007 with another, one-off TV movie that is probably lame. I’d like to get DVDs of his one or two or three rom-coms, with English subtitles, if such DVDs exist or will someday exist.

    Fortunately, I got the US DVD at a non-extortionate price because my search skills were so brilliant and wily.

  4. I know I’m weird, but my mace, Indian clubs and kettlebells give me peace.
    And right now I’m getting more out of science books (Empire of Ants, Buzz, Venomous) because the world is wilder and weirder than we can often imagine.

  5. Yagiz /

    > “world is too much with us”

    In the last few years learning and applying Stoicism have helped me deal with the problem rather than trying to find a way to sooth it for a while.

  6. Noneofyourbusiness /

    I get hope from the fact that most fiction features sensible, inclusive values.

  7. The Distinguished Professor /

    The works of Rabbie Burns are a source of comfort to me.

  8. Lady Morar /

    Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent speech was terrific.

  9. Jillian /

    I’ve just recently been trying to read more poetry, but it is so hard to find good poetry books. I always go back to Emily Dickinson, her work is always timeless.

  10. Trey, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks. If your address is outside of the USA, you will get a $5 Amazon gift card.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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