January 16, 2013 by Will Ray
I’m just gonna be real: I don’t like poetry.
I never have, just me. But I don’t have anything against poetry. If poetry is your thing, that’s awesome; do it up. I even like poetry set to music (those would be called lyrics), but not just poetry.
At least I didn’t like it very much until I read Art of Manliness: Manvotionals.
I received the book Manvotionals last Christmas, and savored it over the course of last year. The book, compiled by Authors Brett and Kate McKay, is a collection of essays, letters, speeches, other writings and, yes – poems, by presidents, generals, authors, philosophers, and even just ordinary men.
From Aristotle all the way through to some 20th century writers, this book’s seven chapters each center on one of what they call the “Seven Manly Virtues.” Let’s see if I can do this from memory:
– Discipline (lol this is the only one I had to look up – ironic)
It is chock-full of writings to challenge and inspire any man to rise to his full, God-given potential as a man. It’s sometimes hard to read, because you can see in yourself perhaps some deficiencies of character that don’t give you warm fuzzy feelings. It’s a challenge.
I read one or two of the selections at night before going to bed, and thought about it before going to sleep, and hopefully allowed it to inspire me and my work the next day. I think it would be an absolutely great way to start a morning, but it just worked out for me to read it at night.
One of my favorite parts of the book was the conclusion, but to share that would be quite the spoiler. Beyond challenging and inspiring me, the book did something else pretty amazing: help me enjoy [some] poetry. I leave you with one of my favorites, “Opportunity,” by John James Ingalls:
Master of human destinies am I;
Fame, love and fortune on my footsteps wait.
Cities and fields I walk. I penetrate
Deserts and seas remote, and, passing by
Hovel and mart and palace, soon or late,
I knock unbidden once at every gate.
If sleeping, wake; if feasting, rise, before
I turn away. It is the hour of fate,
And they who follow me reach every state
Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
Save death; but those who hesitate
Condemned to failure, penury and woe,
Seek me in vain, and uselessly implore.
I answer not, and I return no more.