Poetry - Not mine.

In very hard times of my life, I have learned the power of a bloody good iconic poem to make me feel better.

Here are some of my favourites.

1. If - Rudyard Kipling.
My favourite poem EVAH. I can recite it off the top of my head.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

2. Invictus - W.E. Henley
As read by Nelson Mandela in his jail cell.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

3. The Summer Day - Mary Oliver
Credit to my friend Phil for this one.

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

4. From Where the Sidewalk Ends - Shel Silverstein
I jacked this from a friend, short but sweet. I think I will put this on my future hypothetical child's wall.

Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts.
Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me...
Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.

5. After a While - Veronica Shofstall.
Helped me deal with the fickleness of the internet dating world, but written in 1971. How visionary! Again credits to Phil

“After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand
and chaining a soul, 
and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning 
and company doesn’t mean security, 
and you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises, 
and you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open, 
with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child, 
and you learn to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans 
and futures have a way of falling down mid-flight. 
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much, 
so you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, 
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. 
And you learn that you really can endure … that you really are strong, 
and you really do have worth, 
and you learn, you learn, with every goodbye.”

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