Monday, June 14, 2010

The Poetry Doctor

(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.

Problem:
Dear Poetry Doctor... I'm not sure, but I think I might drink too much.

Prescription:
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.

~John Keats


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.

23 comments:

24 Corners said...

Your blog is one of *my* rabbit holes!
The books cover is frame-worthy...truly beautiful and the brilliance of using poetry instead of Dr. Phil or Dear Abby is pure genius! xo

(really, really like that cover!)

Style Court said...

Just what this patient needed. Thanks Lisa.

Suze Yalof Schwartz said...

You are up! Hope you like - Let me know if I need to make any changes! xo Suze

http://dwellerswithoutdecorators.blogspot.com/2010/06/chez-lisaa-bloomsburry-life-before-book.html

Dumbwit Tellher said...

I also believe in the power of a verse to change ones mood or alter their outlook on such day. I often gather great inspiration and a rosier outlook from all the great posts by fellow bloggers such as this amazing post you have done. I think this patient needed it to Lisa.

Thank you ~

Miss Whistle said...

Oh what a heavenly post!

Miss W x

Michelle said...

This woman needs her own show on NPR.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

24 Corners: I knew you'd like that book cover! And thanks for the nice "rabbit hole" comment. :)

Style Court: Anything else I can do, let me know! xx

Suze Yalof Schwartz: Suze, Suze, Suze... am clicking over there now... xx

Dumbwit Teller: I so agree with your insightful comment. My favorite blogs are a prescription for the soul as well. Thank you as well, lovely one.

Miss Whistle: So glad you liked it! xx

Michelle: Now that is a GREAT idea. Seriously.

Smarty Pantalons said...

I'm a college English teacher and I always teach research as "going down the rabbit hole." Sometimes it's the mad hatter and sometimes it's a rabbit hole. The internet analogy is much the same. You can go and click and go and click and sometimes it's an interesting adventure. Sometimes, though . . .

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Smarty Pantalons:

"Sometimes, though..."

Yikes, yes. I think I wound up there once.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Oh, it's a good day! I love it when you go down the "rabbit hole" because I always know I am on the receiving end of something really wonderful!

A Super Dilettante said...

Thanks for this lovely recommendation. My dear, I just picked up a book at the second hand shop When we were young: Memories of childhood for £1.00. Can you imagine such a pretty book worth merely a pound?

Young at Heart said...

that's quite warmed me up...last night I actually took a hot water bottle to bed!!

Emily said...

You always make me "think"!!! Love you for that! And I loved reading Suze's blog about you. I learned something new about you and her blog is lovely.

pve design said...

my kind of prescription. words, images, art, utter and sublime sweetness.
pve

The Hausfrau said...

What a wonderful book! A blog is definitely in order!

Cheryl said...

I would buy this book for that delicious cover, let alone its own contents. Heading over to my Amazon page, pronto...

Mystica said...

I love your rabbit hole idea. So very very true. Not one hour but hours slip by in this way. Lovely post Lisa.

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa -

If you get wind of a blog in the works...definitely give me the link!!

i would love it i think

Our Porch in Hillsborough said...

I'm with 24 Corners - your blog is one of my rabbit holes - it's late and I sat down to check one thing online and here I am 45 minutes later. It was worth it though to find your blog and the wonderful poetry book. I'm adding to my 'must-have' list.
Cheers,
Leah

Lisa Swartz said...

Is there a store or website in the U.S. from which I can buy this book? A search didn't turn up any results--

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Lisa Swartz: I think it's only available in hardcover on the Penguin Books website... although Amazon does have it for $40.00.

Oh, wait...The Book Depository has it in paperback for $12.11, free shipping worldwide:

http://www.bookdepository.com/book/9780140424706/Penguins-Poems-for-Life

Lisa Swartz said...

Oh, thank you for the link, Lisa. Grateful you could find it.

I thought perhaps I had an excuse to plan another book trip to London, but I ordered it instead. My husband always complains about the weight of my suitcase, between the books and fabrics!

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