For many of us a poem was something you learnt by heart and recited in a monotone before a bunch of relatives when urged by proud parents; or as you grew older, reproduced and analysed in the exam paper. The few of us that survived these stages went on to read and enjoy poetry. In all cases, poetry was always associated with something that came in and out of a book.
Many of us have not connected poetry to a living tradition. Poems were created by all sorts of people, poetry grew out of the experiences of life and living and reflected its rhyme and rhythm. It was a blend of the art and the craft of the potter, the weaver, the cowherd, the sisterhood of women who sewed together to create the most beautiful patterns.
As eloquently described, ‘Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.’
To celebrate this power of poetry, UNESCO proclaimed 21 March as World Poetry Day. In celebrating this day we recognize the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.
Sharing a poem that reflects this very spirit.
Last night when my work was done
And my estranged hands
Were becoming mutually interested
In such forgotten things as pulses,
I looked out of a window
Into the glittering night sky.
I began to feather-stitch
A ring around the moon.
Hazel Hall 1921
Hazel Hall was an American poet and seamstress born in 1886. Paralysed at the age of 12, she was confined to a wheelchair. Her days were spent in an upstairs room her family house; she never left this room. To help support her mother and two sisters Hazel took in sewing and occupied herself with embroidering garments. She died in 1924.