Poetry tears down Walls

July 20, 2010  |  Poetry Prompt

So how does it work?  I write these words, press a button and you, wherever you are, can access them within seconds. The ancient barriers of geography and time dissolve.

This is the role that poetry has played for millennia.

I did not trust it for a moment,

but I drank it anyway,

the wine of my own poetry.

It gave me the daring

to take hold

of the darkness

and tear it down

and cut it into little pieces.

Lalla*  translated by Coleman Barks, from Naked Song

These words first spoken in 14 th century India resonate and change me forever.

Poetry tears down walls between cultures, genders, and historical periods. It tears down darkness, ignorance, and fear.  Poetry connects us to our humanness as holocaust survivor, Jacques Lusseyran, explains below…

“There was one thing that terror could achieve… that hundreds of men seething in the barracks were silent. Only terror and. . . poetry. If someone recited a poem, all hushed one by one, as coals go out. One hand drew these men together. One cloak of humanness covered them.

“There I learned that poetry is an act, an incantation, a kiss of peace, a medicine. I learned that poetry is one of the rare, very rare things in the world which can prevail over cold and hatred.”

A quote from “Poetry in Buchenwald” an essay in Against the Pollution of the Pollution of the I by Jacques Lusseyran.

If you are fortunate enough to live in the Byron area, join us for our Poetry Without Walls Poetry Day Celebration, 1st August ( see events and workshops).  Feast on words and music and watch the walls come tumbling down….

When I read the lines.. I see you are lovely, hateful, naked girl.

Your lips in the mirror tremble as I refuse

to know or claim you. Let me go—let me be gone.

The walls of age crumble and I am 13 again, gazing into a mirror, raw, trembling on the cusp of womanhood.

Judith Wright’s Naked Girl and the Mirror is a perfect example of a poem written to a specific audience— in this case, an adolescent girl speaks to her mirror.  ( See poetry prompt #1) We hope you will respond to this prompt and send us your poem…

Looking forward to seeing or hearing from you soon…



  1. Hi Laura,
    Gayle’s cousin here. Gayle had forwarded your new website to me and I am just getting a chance to look at it. It is lovely. I am not a poet but love what you have on your website.

    Good luck with it!

  2. Thanks, Ihla. I enjoyed the articles she sent that you wrote. Have you a site yet?
    Let me know your url.