Poetry Oasis
An Anthology of Poems
Lucia B., editor

        I turn on the TV and am immediately overwhelmed by the experience- the flashing colors, the rapid-fire images, the non-stop consumerism. TV echoes our modern life in this. The world moves so fast that we lose touch with nature, each other, and ourselves. I've found my solution to this problem in poetry. Poems are intense as well, but they can describe a world that is slow, peaceful, and beautiful. The poetry I've selected in this book is a kind of antidote to our frenetic modern lives.
        Poetry takes time to read and write. The words slowly build to reach a height of emotion, but there are no flashing colors and shouting ads. The aspect of poetry I searched for was the mood- the feeling of peace and quiet that can only be found settling down with a good book or relaxing out in the wilderness. The theme of peace and calm crops up in several places in these poems. Most were about nature, but there were also themes of religion and the evening. Every poem looks for a place of solace where you can escape from the bustling world.
        Nature is a powerful way to find peace. We all know what it feels like to walk away from the computer and out into the sunlight and fresh air. My parents introduced me to the wilderness at an early age. We would hike up to the Cascade Mountains for a night, just to slip away from the city. I was allowed to wander the trails around our tent by myself. There was a large rock by our campsite in Spider Meadow, and I would climb it and lie there, breathing the clear, sweet air and feeling the moss beneath my shoulders. I found in nature my own secret place to rest and regain my serenity. Now, when I have no chance to retreat to the mountains, I've found in poetry the same sanctuary.
        These poets have captured in words the wonder and peacefulness of nature. Sometimes, it is the sky described as "that beautiful old parchment in which the sun and moon keep their diary." (Kreymborg, 2-5) Others find their peace in forests, like "the oak tree rustling in the wind." (Lowell, 4) The different aspects of nature are described with a wonderful calming effect.
        I was surprised by how often the poets wrote about the evening. It is a time to slow down, when the day's work is done and the restful night takes over. Dusk is silent after the noise of day. The shifting light creates an enchanting effect. Shelley describes the magic of the evening:

    And pallid Evening twines its beaming hair
    In duskier braids around the languid eyes of Day:
    Silence and Twilight, unbeloved of men,
    Creep hand in hand from yon obscurest glen.
        I chose a variety of poets for this collection. The backbone of the book is the English Romantics, who were seeking the magic and mystery of the world. In addition to these are the Americans like Walt Whitman and Alfred Kreymborg. The American values of shedding tradition and starting fresh come through clearly in their poetry. But there are unusual voices too, of Asians and of women. Asian traditions deal directly with tranquility and escape. Women in the 1800s were sequestered in the home and had little formal education. Still, their poetry shows a remarkable connection to the earth as well as deep emotion. But although their sources vary, in every poem is a feeling of quiet and peace.
        It was difficult to organize this book, as the poems kept finding their way into incongruous places. I decided to reduce it to three main categories. The first is the women: they are all American and all from the late 1800s. Next I included two Asian poems I found particularly lovely and fitting to the subject. The last section is the dead white guys, so to speak: the older, established voices of the poetry world. You may have heard some of these poems before, but they speak most clearly to the peace this book is all about.
        Walt Whitman's poem, "When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer," sums up my anthology. He writes about a common feeling, that science is taking the mystery from the world. His reaction to the astronomer's quantifying the stars and planets is "how soon unaccountable I became tired and sick." (10-11) Although it can be a wonderful tool, science reduces nature to chemicals and reactions. In yet another way we lose touch with the beauty and peace of the natural world. But in his poem, and many others, we find the cure to this modern, quantified, fast-paced life: "Rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself, / in the mystical moist night air, and from time to time, / Looked up in perfect silence at the stars."

Table of Contents

Amy Lowell
Sara Teasdale
Josephine Preston Peabody
Sone No Yoshitada
Li Po
Alfred Kreymborg
William Blake
Robert Lee Frost
Percy Bysshe Shelley
William Wordsworth
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Walt Whitman