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It is National Poetry Month and some have suggested I offer my favorite poem on this blog. I have a small number of favorite poems, and a strong preference for a particular type of poem, ones that meld us with Place, and the deeper meaning beyond words of that Place.
But my favorite poem of all, one that deeply changed how I experience my world, is not like that. Not quite. And yet in another much more subtle way it is.
When I was a college student I found it written on the wall of the men’s room in the Bierstube in Lawrence, Kansas, next to the observation “You don’t buy beer, you rent it.”
The verse affected me deeply when I encountered it in the 60s. It has never stopped doing so. The whole poem was not there, only a crucial part. Even that part was in translation from the original Russian. I give it now, excerpted from Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s “People” in his Selected Poems.
In any man who dies there dies with him
His first snow and kiss and fight.
It goes with him.
They are left books and bridges
And painted canvas and machinery.
Whose fate is to survive.
But what has gone is also not nothing:
By the rule of the game something has gone.
Not people die but worlds die in them.
It would be years still before I became a Pagan, but already I was captivated by the magic and meaning of immanence, and the deep beauty and sacredness of the concrete.
For the next week I will offer some others that are special to me – and hopefully some of my readers will do the same. I will save explicitly Pagan poems until the last. I am doing this in part to motivate me to return to some of my favorites, and re-read them at my leisure.