It is a harmless vice, but others tend to look at you as if you were picking your nose in public when they see you actually enjoying the stuff. It brings out the strongest of emotions and people have been known to laugh and cry when under the influence.
It is a lifelong obsession. Alfred Noyes seduced me to the darkside when I was only six and ever since I must confess: I LOVE POETRY. There it was before my tender, innocent eyes:
THE wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
There were the mysterious images, the pounding hooves, the evil ostler skulking in the darkness ravaged by jealousy, the crude redcoats, the noble Bess twisting her fingers around a trigger, and finally the ghostly lovers repeating their story in the moonlight forever.
I was hooked, first indulging in the great story ballads such as Hiawatha and Evangeline, then being led astray by the humor of Eugene Field, and craving the not so simple simplicity of Emily Dickinson.
The older I got, the more I was unable to resist temptation as W. H. Auden and Robert Frost gathered me in with themes so big that you have to reread the words over and over. The vice became incurable with the sonnets of Shakespeare. And then I discovered a group of collaborators who broadcast to the world sucking in more and more victims. These dens of iniquity reside on BBC 4 and NPR. Do not turn your dials in that direction. There are subversive people there who insist on discussing ideas. It wouldn't be so bad if they didn't have so much fun doing it that there are times you laugh out loud while being drawn farther and farther into the addiction.
This morning NPR did me in again. I now have a new, previously undiscovered funny poet who makes you think. Since he has written about 20 books, this was obviously an oversight on my part, but now I lust after the humor and wit of David Kirby who has just published a new book: The House On Boulevard Street a book of poetry for people who don't like poetry.
"Surprise, surprise!’ says Gomer Pyle, / and Dante Alighieri, too,
I think I am inventing something totally new"
Now I have to go read the books to find out if they did.