It is that time of year when extreme weather conditions in some parts of the world make us all wish for our favorite season. What is it about the weather and how it has so much influence on our sense of wellbeing and emotional moods? Beyond vitamin D and seasonal affective disorder, there is just something about the regenerative effect of a change in the season that alters our outlooks too. So here are a few poems I had shared in the past for various times of the year. We have winter by Timothy Steele; spring by Horace; summer by Mary Oliver and Kamala Das; and autumn by Carl Sandburg. Pick your favorite or read them all. Let them transport you to another time/place or deepen your enjoyment of the current weather you are experiencing.
As we try to put 2017 behind us and look forward to 2018, many of us are reflecting on our past accomplishments/challenges and planning how to fare better. Those of us who are past a certain age find that bright-eyed optimism has slowly given way to a clear-eyed skepticism, given what these last two years have wrought around the world. Still, we are hopeful creatures, aren't we? So here are four poems to help us get into the right frame of mind for the new year. These are about the moment when we reflect back on our past accomplishments (The Moment by Margaret Atwood), how we plan for the future (Plans by Stuart Dischell), the hopes with which we aim to begin again (The Land of Beginning Again by Louise Fletcher), and the thought of doing something over and doing it better (Next Time by Joyce Sutphen.) I wish you all a terrific new year ahead. May you have many reflective moments, may all your plans come to fruition, may you have many wonderful beginnings, and may you get plenty of "next time" second chances to do more, do better.
What I like about this poem is that a Parsi poet, Keki N Daruwalla, has taken a significant moment from ancient Indian history, about how the Hindu Emperor Ashoka came to Buddhism, and made it globally relevant. And, he has done it in beautifully-rhythmic iambic pentameter with everyday language and descriptive imagery that stays with you long after you have finished reading. No, this is not a joy-filled poem about puppies, sunshine, and rainbows. But it is a poem that takes a single moment in history and helps us see it with fresh eyes. When a poem expands our thinking and understanding in new ways, it affects us deeper, cognitively and emotionally, than we can ever know.