I haven’t intentionally written a poem since graduating high school. While I have come to love reading poetry aloud with my family it remains mostly a mysterious art. So it took me by surprise when I was preparing for the Liturgy of Life Reading group and looked down to see several poems on my page.
As I read our latest book Tolstoy’s, The Death of Ivan Ilyich I jotted down phrases and ideas that seemed to characterize each chapter as I went along. I enjoyed seeing how my highlighted phrases told the story of Ivan’s progression. Liking what I saw I narrowed the words and phrases down even more to create a simple summary. Unexpectedly what appeared on my page looked like several simple poems which had originating in Tolstoy’s words and had been edited down by me.
If you are a real poet I don’t know that this process is much to get excited about, but I felt like I had discovered an entirely new way to interact with my reading material and as if I was collaborating with the great mind of Tolstoy on a new project. I am sharing a few here not because they are great works but rather as an encouragement and a hope that new ways to love learning will sneak up on you. And that this book in particular would challenge you in some new direction.
It was his own rage killing him,
it was his fault,
edge of destruction
all is exposed
face to face
staring at death
it could penetrate anything
stare at it and go cold
terrified of being alone.
Tears like a child,
pleasures melted to something disgusting.
Maybe I didn’t live as I should have?
Chapters 10, 11 and 12
What is this?
Life is a series of increasing sufferings.
Have I really been wrong?
Struggling against the black sack,
What is the right thing?
It could still be put right.
Instead of death there was light.