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Pain Makes Better Poets

April 21, 2011


Pain Makes Better Poets

The Poet Laureate, now an old curmudgeon,
had once advised,
“Pain makes better poems”.

This was disturbing.
My younger instincts
sought to wax of love and beauty
the evening sunset,
the starlit sky
a full moon
the yellow flowers in the springtime
their crimson prodigy in the fall
a lover’s touch
a child’s smile,
the warmth of a fleece blanket
while reading a comforting book.

I studied his early works
to determine from what place he spoke.
His advice from experience?
Or with old age did there develop
a certain harshness which imbued his work?
A brittle edge to a thicker skin
a mind’s eye dulled to the beauty of the world around.

Research often surprising,
dispels preconceived notions.
I found his works from years ago,
serious – yet light and gay
philosophical – yet romantic
a wide-ranging discourse on people –
the path of lives and human emotions.

When appraising his current works
time had produced no philosophical change
which could be ascertained by naked eye,
though his pen disclosed
how a master crafts his words –
as an experience carpenter
rounds the edges of the scroll
on a walnut hutch
to be ensconced in the dining rooms of memory.

What then of his advice?

I found myself – lost in his reflection
as, at times, I am lost in a good poem.

On a park bench under a stately elm
at the campus of Princeton University
in the fall
– although the winter of his life –
when colors provide so much choice
I hesitated lest the ghosts of this quad
think me unworthy.

I crafted my inquiry.
His eyes betrayed the answer
distinctive trailing of red lines,
in his gaze, pain –
of emotion, of life and death,
of physical ailment and heartache
of everything that grips a man,
integrates his life’s experience.

I understood without a passing word
how the intellect responds
to what old age imparts to a man,
who writes not about pain
but from it.

Ray Brown

Consider purchasing my book of poems, “I Have His Letters Still” – Poetry of Everyday Life ($11.95).  Available on Amazon at or purchase an autographed copy at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2010 5:32 pm

    your title lured me…your words captivated me. i particular enjoyed the last stanze, and i connected with it.

    i would like to extend to you the Sunshine Award that was started by a wonderful poet, Jingles Jingles has a way of opening up arms to all, and when she awarded me with this offering, I was deeply touched. I was also afforded ths privilege by Artiste7 They are both such warmhearted, gracious people. Please accept this award as it is a sign of appreciation for your work. Also, this is a great way to meet other poet/bloggers.

    Copy this pic above or below your winning poem.

    The rules are below:

    •Put the logo on your blog above or below your post.
    •Pass the award to 12 bloggers.
    •Link the nominees within your post.
    •Let the nominees know they have received the award by commenting on their blogs.
    •Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.


    • Ray Brown permalink*
      February 24, 2010 10:40 pm

      Thank you for reading and for your comment and for your award. I am going to ahve to take a little time to study my receipient responsibilities. Please know that I am appreciative.

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