Sunday, October 20, 2013

"This is My Life" by William Stanley Braithwaite

This is My Life
by William Stanley Braithwaite

To feed my soul with beauty till I die; 
To give my hands a pleasant task to do; 
To keep my heart forever filled anew 
With dreams and wonders which the days supply; 
To love all conscious living, and thereby 
Respect the brute who renders up its due, 
And know the world as planned is good and true- 
And thus -because there chanced to be an I! 

This is my life since things are as they are: 
One half akin to flowers and the grass: 
The rest a law unto the changeless star. 
And I believe when I shall come to pass 
Within the Door His hand shall hold ajar 
I'll leave no echoing whisper of Alas!

Even though This is My Life by Braithwaite is written in the more formal, structured style of the very early 20th Century poets, I appreciate its flow, timbre and emotion. I would call this a romantic poem, though the "romance" of it has more to do with the poets metaphysical relationship with life than a romance with another human being. As much as I enjoy contemporary free-verse poetry, I think I will always love and admire structured verse when it reaches deeper levels like this one does. What I'm hearing from this poem is an acceptance of life as it is, not with apathy but with exuberance and even gratitude. I find it sweet and pure, not sugary sweet or pretentious in any way but childlike in its simplicity of heart, which works for me.