It is one thing to find a poem that fits a situation perfectly for you. Imagine writing a poem for that occasion. That is one of the best things about being a poet, the ability to express emotions in a way that reach others. Of course, that assumes the poet is willing to share their poems. In reality, sometimes you are and sometimes you are not. For me, I am willing to publish most every poem unless to do so would cause some sort of indiscretion for another.
Now, personal poems are about much more than just romance. While romance does fall into this category, it includes things like feeling a specific emotion, seeing something special, or having an epiphany of some sort. The point is the feeling behind a personal poem is just that, personal to the poet. Sometimes it is not easy to tell if a poem is personal or just the poet waxing on. For me, any poem that makes someone wonder about it will have a personal connection. It is how I write.
Even famous poets create personal poems. Take Edgar Allan Poe, many of his poems are personal in nature. Annabel Lee comes to mind. We can speculate just who Annabel Lee was but we will never really know. The best candidate is Poe’s wife, Virginia. Here are the first two stanzas of Poe’s masterpiece:
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.
Just reading these two stanzas fills my mind with wonder. Of course, I wonder about Annabel but also about the kingdom by the sea. It is the magic of personal poems, we know there is some truth there, but we get to fill-in the blanks for ourselves.
In this next poem, it is personal but in a light-hearted way. I was thinking about the duality of the situations life put before me. I often tell people “if you get this poem, you get me.” Of course, I do not know if that clears things up for them or makes it worse. In the end, the poem is not so much about the choices presented to you, as it is about the choice you make. Nothing says you have to accept things as they are, and I seldom do.
Life can be a turnip or a rose
Life can be a turnip or a rose -
One can give sustenance or beauty.
Life can be a feather or a brick -
One can go gently or break a window.
Life can be red or blue -
One can have passion or compassion.
Life can be a fox or a rabbit –
One can hunt or be hunted.
Life can be phone call or a letter –
One is right away, but then what have you got?
Life can be…
All things being equal, I’d rather be an apple.
That is an example of a poem that has a less than obvious personal connection. Others are extremely obvious. For example, you can pen a poem about something personal but it is personal in the same way to all of us. We might use different words or choose to express a thought somewhat differently but we all understand the emotion as well as understand the poet was writing from personal feeling. Given that today is Mother’s Day, here is a poem I wrote for my mom a few years back to which everyone can relate.
You are a lady,
that, you will always be.
You are sunshine,
there to brighten my day.
You are happiness,
to make sadness fade away.
You are wisdom,
to show me – when I stray.
You are my teacher,
to follow along the way.
You are my mother,
for that, I thank God each day.
While it is wrong to speak in generalities, I think in this case it is pretty safe to say everyone gets it. It is an example of a personal poem everyone could use as their own, not that you want to, but you could.
That leaves the personal poems poets write for a singular occasion or person. While we may recognize it is personal, we do not understand the context of the poem. Still, it makes us wonder and that in itself make them worth reading. We can imagine the circumstance and ponder at a name or other hint as to the identity of some unnamed person.
The Day I Found You
We sat upon a swing that day
and made the world our own
We talked with more than words could say
with seeds our thoughts had sown
For love began upon that swing
our souls became as one
For us the world had joys to bring
through this life that we’ve run
I look back now, that day I see
and know I found my soul
It’s from life’s dark you set me free
and with your love made whole
I love you for you, but really much more
you taught me to love, you opened love’s door
In this example for instance, you may wonder just who I wrote this for? Where was the swing? Whatever became of the relationship? I could answer the questions but what fun would that be?
So, you see personal poems hold a special magic with poets. You get to peek into our lives, to share our feelings and emotions. While you may not know the who, what, or where, you will understand the personal nature of the emotions involved.