This morning, I explored the origins of poetry.
Poetry was first heard through voice, rather than read from the pages of a book. It was an oral tradition. Poetry was the record-keeper of human experience, knowledge, and belief systems. As language developed, storytellers traveled from place to place reciting stories and collecting new legends and tales.
We are influenced by the ancients, even as we gather our stories into the chronicle of history.
As I recited Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem, “Afternoon on a Hill” the question that came to mind was: Are poets influenced by poets who came before? The answer is a resounding yes!
For example, Mary Oliver was profoundly influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay when she lived for a brief time in Millay’s home helping Edna’s sister, Norma, sort Edna’s papers. Robert Frost influenced Edna St Vincent Millay. Going back further, Robert Frost was influenced by Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. Robert Graves was influenced by Siegfried Sassoon, Johann Jakob Bachofen, and W.H.R. Rivers. And so on…
Perhaps the most vital question is, who influences our creative spirit?
Join me in reciting “Afternoon on a Hill” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, imagining that we are hearing the summer sounds on a late afternoon.
Afternoon on a Hill
By Edna St. Vincent Milly
I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.
I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.
And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down!