[Poetry Friday] A Meditation on Courage and Living Dangerously

poetry friday

Fats here.

Happy to join Poetry Friday* again this week! Today, I have a poem by Don Marquis, as featured in a poetry collection entitled, Good Poems (for Hard Times), selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor. This book contains over 150 poems by celebrated poets around the world.

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In his Introduction, Garrison Keillor wrote,

“The meaning of poetry is to give courage. A poem is not a puzzle that you the dutiful reader is obliged to solve. It is meant to poke you, get you to buck up, pay attention, rise and shine, look alive, get a grip, get the picture pull up your socks, wake up and die right. Poets have many motives for writing, but what really matters about poetry… is the miracle of incantation in rendering the gravity and grace and beauty of the ordinary world and thereby lending courage to strangers. This is a necessary thing.”

As a segue to the poem, below is a quote by Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher, OSHO.

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♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

the lesson of the moth
Don Marquis

i was talking to a moth
the other evening
he was trying to break into
an electric light bulb
and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows
pull this stunt i asked him
because it is the conventional
thing for moths or why
if that had been an uncovered
candle instead of an electric
light bulb you would
now be a small unsightly cinder
have you no sense

plenty of it he answered
but at times we get tired
of using it
we get bored with the routine
and crave beauty
and excitement
fire is beautiful
and we know that if we get
too close it will kill us
but what does that matter

it is better to be happy
for a moment
and be burned up with beauty
than to live a long time
and be bored all the while
so we wad all our life up
into one little roll
and then we shoot the roll
that is what life is for…

and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
the longevity

but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself

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*Poetry Friday round-up is hosted by Diane at Random Noodling.

  1. The “the lesson of the moth” poem is really thought-provoking! Great post! 😀

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  2. What a delight! A conversation with a moth about the choices we make! It has me smiling…

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  3. Wonderful, Fats. While this is more serious for adults, I’ve recently talked with my granddaughter about courage, talking about just this, if you don’t try, you might not succeed at first, but you will never know what can happen if you do try. It’s worth the risk. Terrific philosophical question.

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  4. This is one of my favorites from the book Archie and Mehitabel. The speaker in this poem is a cockroach who learns to use a typewriter! Okay, now you made me want to pull out that book and re-read it!!

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  5. Keri Collins Lewis June 27, 2016 at 6:10 am

    I’ve been thinking about “wholehearted” living lately, and your post has inspired me to live with more courage! Thank you!

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