Poetry and your legacy
“What will survive of us is love,” writes the famously cynical Philip Larkin in “An Arundel Tomb.” This one line of poetry has always resonated with me. What survives of us is the networks and relationships we’ve built, and the lives we’ve cultivated. And, as poets, our words.
Poets are generous people. Writing poetry is an act of sharing, often of sharing yourself, your life. When I think of some of the words I’ve read that have stayed with me longest, they are words that seem to carry with them the essence of the person sharing them, or something essential about their experience.
Anne Frank wrote: “[I] finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if . . . if only there were no other people in the world.” These words have stayed with me since childhood. They reveal so much about her life and the time in which they were written- and yet, they also speak to something universal. Poetry has the potential to reach across space and time and endlessly give.
When you write- when you share yourself- try to think about what you really want to say. Just because your poetry will survive you, doesn’t mean it has to be all hearts and flowers. Only you have lived your own story, and only you have that truth to tell. Your poetry, in essence, only ever has to speak to you. But our words have such potential to touch others, to tell an important story (and yes, your story is important) that it is okay to want your poetry to extend into the future.
It is fine to want your words to live on.
Blog written by Becky Balfourth