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‘Why We Tell Stories’ by Lisel Mueller

Written on April 11, 2011

Here is one of my favourite poems about storytelling. I first found it in Jane Yolen’s beautiful introduction to her book, “Favourite Folktales from around the World.” To read more about the Pulitzer prize-winning poet, Lisa Mueller, follow the link below the poem.

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Tell Stories

Because we used to have leaves

And on damp days

Our muscles feel a tug,

Painful now, from when roots

Pulled us into the ground

And because our children believe

They can fly, an instinct retained From when the bones in our arms

Were shaped like zithers and broke

Neatly under their feathers

And because before we had lungs

We knew how far it was to the bottom

As we floated open-eyed

Like painted scarves through scenery

Of dreams, and because we awakened

And learned to speak

 

We sat by the fire in our caves,

And because we were poor, we made up a tale

About a treasure mountain

That would open only for us

And because we were always defeated,

We invented impossible riddles

Only we could solve,

Monsters only we could kill,

Women who could love no one else

And because we had survived

Sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,

We discovered bones that rose

From the dark earth and sang

As white birds in trees

 

Because the story of our life

Becomes our life

Because each of us tells

The same story but tells it differently

And none of us tells it the same way twice

Because grandmothers looking like spiders

Want to enchant the children

And grandfathers need to convince us

What happened happened because of them

And though we listen only

Haphazardly, with one ear,

We will begin our story

With the word and

You can read more about the Lisel Mueller at this link: Why We Tell Stories My other favourite poem is ‘Loaves and Fishes’ by David Whyte, which you can read in my previous blog ‘Bread for the Soul’.

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