Yesterday, the world paused as the great Notre Dame burned. And as I watched, and tried to make sense of it all, I couldn’t help wonder about the old English poets, and how they tried to tell us about statues and buildings and man-made structures.

Yes, there needs to be science to prove theories and there needs to be math to prove validation and there needs to be engineering to prove feasibility of structure.  I get all that.  But what about poetry and art?  There’s nothing that has to be proven or explained.  There’s nothing that has to be discussed or accepted.  You either like it, or you don’t.  When I look at a piece of art I can tell you within 5 seconds whether I like it or not.  And when I read a poem I can let you know if it moves me or makes me think or makes me feel emotional (or feel anything at all) within seconds.  There is nothing scientific or mathematical about feelings.  You either have ’em, or you don’t.

The horrifying fire at Notre Dame made me think of such things.  We all watched  in sadness as the building burned.  The flames and smoke literally made me sick.  And so incredibly sad.  But it also  made me think.  I mean, a building can burn down and all can be lost in seconds or minutes or hours.   But way back in 1620 Shakespeare wrote a little ‘ol sonnet  that said, in part, that writing poetry about someone or something will make them live forever.  Words, but most especially poetry, were eternal.  Statues can crumble, buildings can burn, flowers will wither and die.  But poetry, is eternal.

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
Notre Dame will rise again.  The art was saved.   But if it somehow couldn’t, the poems and written words about Notre Dame would live on forever.  Make your life poetic.  Make your words, count.  Write someone a letter.  Write a poem about someone you love.  It will give life to thee long after they are gone.
With love from Grand Haven,
For those who are interested, here is Sonnet 18:

Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
   So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.