“I’m a left-brained girl,” is a phrase I have said often, particularly in reference to poetry. You know, being an engineer and all, I just don’t get poetry. You feed me a poem, and I would have no idea what it’s talking about.

But I think there may be some changes to my right side of the brain recently, because not only poetry, I just have increased appreciation for the arts in general.

Take paintings, for example. When someone likes a painting, I used to ask, “What do you like about it?” The person would say, “I don’t know, I just do. It’s art.” I would then think, silently or out loud, “How can you like something and not know how to explain why?”

Now I know what it feels like to experience a painting without the need to explain or interpret it. I talked about my amazing experience at Musée d’Orsay in Paris in a previous blog post, and I totally resonate with Bonhoeffer’s quote that I put in there.

Then, another surprise was when I read the poem Bright Star by John Keats the other day. Why the surprise?

The first time I came across this poem some three or four years ago, I totally didn’t get what the poem meant. I could only digest the first line, and after that, I was completely lost. The poem and I were going at different wavelengths; it just didn’t register.

But for some reason, I was drawn to it again a few days ago, and… I thought it was the most beautiful and powerful poem I’ve ever read. Absolutely magnificent. Here’s the poem for you.

Bright Star

by John Keats


Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—

Not in lone splendor hung aloft the night

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors—

No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow’d upon my fail love’s ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

I don’t know what it is, but something’s happening to my right brain. I think.

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