“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—“
Charles Dickens, from A Tale of Two Cities, 1859
IT’S TIME TO WRITE again about poetry.
We’ve now read 33 books together—our Poetry Pals Reading Group. We began on Zoom during the early months of the Pandemic and continue coast-to-coast meeting monthly. While I’d love to sit in one room with these brilliant heart-women, it’s such a delight to visit with friends who live in New England, D.C., and near the Oregon Coast without needing to fly or drive.
Next month’s choice is Good Bones by Maggie Smith. The title poem emerged on the scene after the 2016 election and speaks of joy and sorrow and how we must offer hope to the next generation (and to ourselves) amid the hardest of times. Readers were hungry for such poetry—and “Good Bones” won many awards
Which seems an ongoing predicament: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Dickins wrote in the 19th century. Surely these words in some form have been written or spoken forever—which leaves the human being to grapple with finding and making meaning, nonetheless.
We often expect so much. We do it with our partners, our parents and children, our friends. We are the center of our own universe and forget it’s the same for each soul that breathes. We get caught up in what we want, what we like—and how wrong someone else has been to us.