Unlike Myself, Poetry is Ageless

I had a birthday this week, a yearly reminder the world is still orbiting the sun. Some people stress and obsess about their age. I am not one of those people. I honestly forget most of the time how old, or young, I actually am and have to do some quick mental math whenever I am asked. And though I honestly don’t care about the grey hair or the fire hazard that is my birthday cake, I know my life has seasons, a finite number of them.

Not so with poetry. I believe this because I have been reading “children’s” poetry and “adult” poetry and poetry for middle schoolers and poetry for teens. And you know what? I could, in many cases, plop one age category of poetry into a collection for older/younger readers and you’d be hard-pressed to find the outlier. For example:

Be Like the Bird

Be like the bird who,
Pausing in his flight,
On a twig too slight,
Feels it bend beneath him,
Yet sings,
Knowing he has wings.

This translated little ray of empowerment was written by Victor Hugo. Yes, that Victor Hugo who is not particularly known as a children’s poet. Yet I came across this poem in a book for young children. Granted, this is an excerpt from a larger piece, but that actually proves my point. A poem that speaks to adults can also speak to children. I doubt Hugo intended this as a sweet little piece that kids could appreciate and ponder, but there it is.

And in another collection for young readers:

September Twelfth, 2001 by X.J. Kennedy

Two caught on film who hurtle
from the eighty-second floor,
choosing between a fireball
and to jump holding hands,

aren’t us. I wake beside you,
Stretch, stretch, taste the air,
the incredible joy of coffee
and morning light.

Alive, we open eyelids
on our pitiful share of time,
we bubbles rising and bursting
in a boiling pot.

Wow! This is powerful and dark and celebratory all at the same time.

I am old enough to remember the events of September 11, 2001, but there are no school children today who were alive when it happened. None. For them, this is a poem about ancient history. There are a myriad of ways to use a poem like this in a classroom, which is great. But I’m betting a lot of us folks “of a certain age” will miss out on a piece such as this because it is placed in a collection for young readers.

And that’s a shame.

I say, who cares where they place the poetry on the book store or library shelf? Poetry is for ALL. Amazing nuggets of wisdom and serenity and beautiful language are found in every poetry collection, for every age, from pre-school to adult. Explore it all.

I will leave you with a little “pre-school” verse I wrote. I didn’t think I was writing this poem for myself, but I clearly was. (Spoiler alert: I am not a pre-schooler.) Maybe this poem is for you, too, no matter how old you are.


Sometimes I zoom

                                I race

                                                I fly.

Sometimes I fall

                                I scrape

                                                I cry.

Sometimes I am upset and blue
Sometimes I need a minute or two

                To calm myself

Then off I’ll go –

                                Good as new.

© 2022, Marilyn Garcia

Happy Poetry Friday! Visit Jan at Bookseed Studio for the whole poetry roundup!

10 thoughts on “Unlike Myself, Poetry is Ageless”

  1. I love this post. I did a poetry reading with adult poets and afterward someone from the audience commented that my poems were good. I quipped, “I believe children deserve good poetry, too.” Shut him up pretty quick.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marilyn, I did see the FB note that it was your birthday so Happy Birthday. I had to laugh at your title and enjoyed all of your post right to the last poem. Thank your for sharing the point that poetry is ageless. (I am one of those people who also forgets age, after all it is just a number. Your pre-school poem is right on target. My toddler grandgirls will like that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your musings had me nodding in agreement all the way through. The ones you picked (and wrote) for illustration prove your point well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I taught middle school kids for years, Marilyn, used poems for all ages & each one felt right, eye of the beholder, right?. It’s a beautiful post, each poem holding my attention for its thoughtfulness. Wishing we might often pick ourselves up quickly “good as new”, something else to ponder. Hope you had a Happy Birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Birthday Marilyn!

    Thank you for these wonderful poems – a good reminder not to be bound by the categories on the bookshelves when we’re seeking poetry. I love your poem – it is timeless advice that all of us at any age would be well served to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing it with us this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hear! Hear! Yes, poetry is for all. I didn’t really read poetry until I became an adult…I have so many poetry “holes” in my experience. So, many of the poems for “children” feel like home for me. This poem you wrote and shared? Any middle schooler could enjoy this!

    Liked by 1 person

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