Sharon Olds

Appreciate: The Most Beautiful Thing You’ll Hear…

Around my senior year of high school I wanted to impress this girl (BTW, how much of our history has been caused by someone uttering those last six words?) and somehow I got this great idea to take her out on this moonlit stroll where, at a point I’d read her this amazing poem to show her how into her I was. Yeah, really original and not at all cheesy.

Well, my biggest obstacle was I didn’t know anything about poetry- how to write it, what was good, did it have to rhyme? So I started by reading every conceivable book of poetry I could get my hands on at Barnes-&-Noble. I did this for weeks in preparation for my big moment and I have to admit, it totally killed. She loved it and boom, we we’re dating.

Smooth, right? It was, but it didn’t last long – probably had something to do with my cancelling on her for prom three days beforehand. To take out my ex-girlfriend.

Yes. That happened.

But my main point here is that I never stopped reading poetry. I kept writing, for years and haven’t ever really stopped for a tremendous length of time. All kinds too; the classics, spoken-word, slam, Charles Bukowski, Billy Collins, Sharon Olds, you name it. That being said, this song (see the video) is not only the most hauntingly beautiful song I’ve ever heard, it’s also a remarkable work of poetry all its own.

Original writing is insanely hard. To capture the nebulous feelings you experience when you look at someone that truly matters to you, and to do it without sounding hackneyed, or trite, or derivative of a master – it’s like verbal alchemy. Damn near as impossible, too.

I think it’s easy for people to take for granted the unbelievable forces spinning inside them; love, jealousy, yearning, ambition, fear, grief, longing – and how hard it is to get someone else to know exactly what those feelings are like – using only the written word. How they make you tingle, or shudder, or how they change your breathing while sitting perfectly still. To get someone else to feel them all over again, just from reading them.

It’s a gift, and this young lady has it. Stunningly beautiful imagery,  intense feeling, uncommon honesty, all adding up to one hell of a song.

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