Winter is never a particularly great time for me, but this year it’s been especially savage. But I’m getting through, and things are finally looking up. At my worst times I tend to turn to poetry, and certainly have recently, turning to musical and magical words to pull me through. Lately I’ve even taken to keeping screenshots of particularly comforting and personally significant poems on my phone, like some sort of digital talisman.
Here are just a few of my favourite poems for times like my past few months, poems that make me feel as if a part of the universe understands a part of me, poems I always come back to when things are falling apart. They’re not all necessarily soft, comforting poems, but something about them brings me back to them over and over again.
I think I was Enchanted – Emily Dickinson
I had to include this poem, since I took the title of this blog from it! But besides that it’s just one of my favourite poems that I always felt nailed the magic that I feel reading (especially reading poetry). So many lines and phrases within it are beautiful on their own – ‘a sombre girl’, ‘divine insanity’, ‘lunacy of light’, ‘giants – practicing/ titanic opera’.
Scheherazade – Richard Siken
This poem knocks the air out of me every time, I think it might be the closest thing to perfect I’ve ever found in poetry – or at least the poem that does the most to me, every line says and does so much with so little. And it’s so musical to read, sometimes I go days with ‘ These, our bodies, possessed by light./ Tell me we’ll never get used to it.’ running through my head over and over again.
Wildly Constant – Anne Carson
I love the adventure and wonder of this poem so much:
‘What would it be like
to live in a library
of melted books.
With sentences streaming over the floor
and all the punctuation
settled to the bottom as a residue.
It would be confusing.
A great adventure.’
But I am learning to appreciate more modest delights. I spoke with Em, my best friend, the other day about my adoration of Lana Del Rey’s new song – I said it was ‘full of humble wonder’, they said it was ‘spirit raising in a sober sort of way’ – this is the sort of kind of pleasure I am trying to reach more often, not ambitious in a way that leads to self-destruction. Baby steps, slow and delicate work towards ….something better. The ending of this poem makes me think of this a lot, particularly as someone who always considers eggs a powerful, nourishing treat:
“Wake up my husband.
Ask him to make us some eggs.”
For girls who are difficult to love – Warsan Shire
I love poems that demand to be spoken – I think this is one in particular. There is something so beautiful and grounding about Shire’s recording of this poem. Warsan vs. Melancholy is so haunting and soft and vulnerable that I always come back to it. Best appreciated with your full attention, so curl up somewhere comfy, put on your headphones and listen!
Polyamory, with Knives – Jeanann Verlee
“Just because you fell in love with the river
doesn’t mean you must feed it your bones.”
A beautiful punch in the gut, every time.