(photo via here)
It's the wizardry of the internet: You're browsing online and something catches your eye so you click over to someplace else which leads you someplace else and someplace else, and before you know it, an hour has dissolved in the blink of an eye and you've taken this crazy escapade through time and space and discovered the most marvelous things.
I call it "falling down the rabbit hole."
My most recent virtual adventure resulted in the discovery of a delightful compendium from Penguin called "Poems for Life" edited by a woman named Laura Barber (a.k.a. "The Poetry Doctor").
(book available here)
Inspired by Shakespeare's seven ages of a human life, it's a collection of some of the best-loved poems in English and is divided into sections on childhood, growing up, making a living, finding love, raising a family, getting older, and approaching death.
Of course I want the book (when have I ever seen a book I didn't want?), but what really grabbed my attention was "The Poetry Doctor's" column beneath it, in which she responds to personal queries with a fine-honed prescription of classic poetry. Really, it's amazing how modern-day angst can be eased with a lashing of old wisdom.
I include one letter for your enjoyment. To read the others, click here.
Dear Poetry Doctor... I'm not sure, but I think I might drink too much.
Is Ogden Nash's "Reflection on Ice-Breaking" your motto? When you look at the carousing scenes in Byron's "Don Juan", does it all seem strangely familiar? Could Coleridge's vision in "Kubla Khan" of the wild-eyed eccentric who has "drunk the milk of paradise" bring back memories of Friday night? If so, then you're probably just nudging the desirable limit.
For a poem whose mood matches the muffled daze of a hangover (and the insistent bark of the hair-of-the-dog remedy)...
...take a look at Keat's "Ode to a Nightingale", and to get you in the mood for daintier indulgences...
(photo via flickr)
...how about Percy Bysshe Shelley's promise of non-alcoholic fun:
Though we eat little flesh and drink no wine,
Yet let's be merry; we'll have tea and toast;
Custards for supper, and an endless host
Of syllabubs and jellies and mince-pies,
And other such ladylike luxuries.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley
And from "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats:
(photo via here)
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the tru, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim.
The Poetry Doctor's prescriptions only exist on the Penguin Books "Poems for Life" page and nowhere else. That's not enough, I say. I don't know about you, but I think the right poem at the right time can do most people a world of good. I absolutely believe in the power of verse to transform moods, improve well-being and solve those tricky situations in life that leave you with a well-heeled foot in your mouth. Egads, by the powers of Calliope, the goddess of poetry, can't this woman please start a blog?
"Penguin's Poems for Life" is available in hardcover here.
And in in paperback (with free shipping worldwide) here.
P. S. On another note entirely: The sweetness that is Suze. HERE.