The Poetry Cure

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You’re having one of those days at work. You imagine fitting an engine to your swivel chair and helicoptering to freedom over the cubicle wall…

You want   O.  U. T.

Nasty thoughts churn in your brain. You’re trapped. You’re going crazy.

You finger the mouse. Open the browser.

Google, surreptitiously.

By chance (or providence or a good mercury aspect), you come across a N.Y. Times article titled Where Do Sentences Come From? by Verlyn Klinkenborg.

Verlyn Klinkenborg! You loved his column, The Rural Life.

You click on the link. Read the article; re-read this paragraph:

“You almost surely have a voice inside your head. At present, it’s an untrained voice. It natters along quite happily, constructing delayed ripostes and hypothetical conversations. Why not give it something useful to do? Memorize some poetry or prose, nothing too arcane. A rhythmic kind of writing works best, something that sounds almost spoken. Then play those passages over and over again in your memory. You now have in your head something that is identifiably “language,” not merely thoughts that somehow seem unlinguistic.”

The Ancient Mariner comes to mind. You google it. Select three stanzas:


All in a hot and copper sky,

The bloody sun, at noon,

Right up above the mast did stand,

No bigger than the moon.


Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship,

Upon a painted ocean.


Water, water everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.


The lines move you. Excite you.

By lunchtime, you’ve committed them to memory. And for the rest of the afternoon, when the hum inside your head rears up again, you chant the lines.

Quietly, like a mantra. A mantra with literary merit and residual enrichment. You’ve hit the jackpot.

Your spirits lift!

Blessed be the poets. You will never run out of poetry.

You are saved!

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