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Poetry By Heart: “Hope” and “The Patience of Ordinary Things”

November 6, 2014

I forgot today was Thursday! So here’s a short & sweet update on my poetry by heart project. My latest poems include an Emily Dickinson classic and another modern one.


A babysitter gave me a collection of Emily Dickinson poems when I was a wee thing of nine; it took me years to appreciate it. But I love that I still have her on my shelves, to dip into now that I’ve become a poetry person. I couldn’t resist memorising the entire poem, as I’ve known the opening lines for ages.

And then one that I first came across last year, that prompted me to read Schneider’s memoir, and I just love the sentiments:

“The Patience of Ordinary Things” by Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

I’m very new to poetry reading, so all suggestions are welcome. I think my next one will be some Rossetti. And of course, I’m reading more poems than I’m memorising!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2014 4:14 am

    So delighted to hear you are finding your way into poetry! It’s really not as difficult as people make it out to be. There’s a beautiful anthology of 101 poems to remember, edited by Ted Hughes, called ‘By Heart’ (published by Faber & Faber). And you might like Wislawa Szymborska’s poetry (in translation).

    • November 13, 2014 9:22 am

      Thank you for the suggestions Marina! :)

  2. chowmeyow permalink
    November 7, 2014 7:13 am

    What a delightful poem! I’ve never read anything by Pat Schneider, I’ll have to start!

    I just read Mary Oliver’s new collection, Blue Horses, which was so lovely. I think it’s my favorite of her collections that I’ve read. I posted a review on my blog that includes my favorite poem of her collection:

    • November 13, 2014 9:22 am

      Oh I do love Oliver! I’m so glad she’s still writing poetry. :)

  3. November 7, 2014 7:18 am

    The Patience of Ordinary Things reminds me of a poem I’ve memorized without actually meaning to, Home Is So Sad, by Philip Larkin.
    Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
    Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
    As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
    Of anyone to please, it withers so,
    Having no heart to put aside the theft

    And turn again to what it started as,
    A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
    Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
    Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
    The music in the piano stool. That vase.
    I murmur this poem to myself whenever I walk past one of my childrens’ former bedrooms.

    • November 13, 2014 9:23 am

      That’s such a touching poem, especially the context in which you remember it.

  4. November 7, 2014 9:10 am

    Pat Schneider’s poem is one of my favourite poems, thanks to you – since you posted it here sometime back I have been sending it to all my friends :) I enjoyed reading it in your post again. I read poetry occasionally and love it. Two of my favourite collections are ‘101 American Poems’ (it has all the great classics) and ‘Odes to Common Things’ by Pablo Neruda (beautiful poems about everyday things – very like Pat Schneider). If you haven’t read these, I would highly recommend them. And I want to read Mary Oliver’s latest collection ‘Blue Horses’. She is another awesome poet. On a related topic, I did a course called ‘Modern and Contemporary American Poetry’ in Coursera ( It is free, wonderful and lots of fun and the professor who offers it is totally awesome. If you have the time and are interested, I would highly recommend it.

    • November 13, 2014 9:24 am

      I hope your friends enjoy it as much! I hadn’t heard of Coursera, but it sounds well worth looking into. Thanks! I loved Neruda in college, and I’ve read his ode to hand knit socks, but I didn’t realise there was a whole collection of them. Do you have a preferred translation w Neruda?

  5. November 9, 2014 10:22 pm

    I’ve never read this poem. Thank you for sharing. I love it.

    • November 13, 2014 9:24 am

      I’m glad you connected with it. :)

  6. November 10, 2014 3:41 pm

    I’m rubbish for recommending poems, although I want to keep hearing about the poems you’re discovered. I tend not to go looking for poems; they tend to slam into me at timely moments. That Robert Frost poem “Neither Out Far Nor In Deep”; Housman’s “The Oracles”; Swinburne’s “The Garden of Prosperina”; basically everything by June Jordan. I loved this poem that Jeanne posted some time back, as well, by Michael David Madonick —

    OH, and you should look for Anne Carson’s Nox. It’s not exactly poetry, but it is. It’s very good, very sad. And then I sometimes just look at a series of random poems from the Poetry Foundation website.

    • November 13, 2014 9:25 am

      I love Carson’s Greek translations (I need to get her Sappho), so I’ve been meaning to read Nox! I attempted to search for a good snow poem last week, when there was snow fluttering through the air, and ended up disappointed, so I might take the serendipity route as well. Off to read The Promise!

  7. Amanda permalink
    November 13, 2014 6:03 pm

    I haven’t been very good at memorizing in the past. I have been memorizing hymns though out the years. It is easier to remember when I can sing it.

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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