Finding Solace in Poetry

April 10, 2020

Lost in the frenzy of coping with the Covid-19 situation is the fact that April is National Poetry Month in the United States. Several times on Catching Happiness, I’ve posted about incorporating poetry into one’s life in simple, non-intimidating ways. (See “It’s National Poetry Month—No Foolin’” or “10 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month.”)

In fact, now seems like an excellent time to return to reading poetry. I find it calming and soothing—and slowing down is necessary in order to fully appreciate the layers of meaning in many poems. In particular, I’ve been meaning to revisit some of Robert Frost’s poetry after visiting one of his homes in September of 2019.

In the meantime, here’s a poem, courtesy of, to remind us that even in the face of  “interesting times,” some rituals remain.

Introduction by Ted Kooser: That sage curse, “May you live in interesting times,” has been upon us for the past few years, but here a Kentucky poet, Jonathan Greene, offers us some reassurance that there is order in the world. Greene has a special talent for, and love of, short poems, and this is a good example of his work. This poem is from his most recent book, Afloat, published by Broadstone Books.

The Return

We are heartened
when each year
the barn swallows

They find their old nests,
teach their young to fly,
lining up on the barn roof
for their first flight.

They remind us,
for now, some rituals
of this good earth

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Jonathan Greene, “The Return,” from Afloat, (Broadstone Books, 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of Jonathan Greene and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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  1. Yes, a very reassuring poem...Spring is the time of return...even in this confusing and often disturbing time...

    1. So much beauty in spring! Perhaps this is a gift, the slowing down enough to appreciate it.