- Title Pages
- 1 Kindred Spirits
- 2 Intimacy in Language
- 3 Laughter for Dessert
- 4 The Poetry of Ping-Pong
- 5 Days of Chess and Backgammon
- 6 Inventing a Language for Love
- 7 Poetry on the Porch
- 8 All My Trials
- 9 The AIDS Poets
- 10 Oh Did You See the Ashes Come Thickly Falling Down?
- 11 The POEMobile Dreams of Peace
- 12 Free Market Flavor
- 13 The Poetry in Science
- 14 Navigating Transitions
- 15 The Human Unit of Time
- 16 Your Body as Symbol
- 17 Intimations of Immortality
- 18 God Is in the Details
- 19 Breath on the Mirror
- 20 The Best Stories versus My Story
- 21 The Grease Lamp’s Flicker and Flare
- 22 Lion’s Gate
- 23 Rock and Word
- For Further Reading
Poetry in Rites of Passage
- (p.143) 14 Navigating Transitions
- The Poetry of Everyday Life
- Cornell University Press
This chapter considers the poetry underlying rites of passage. Throughout the life cycle, the complex cycling and recycling of customs and rites of passage is reminiscent of the classic children's toy the Slinky. Along with the rites of passage that mark linear time, seasonal customs and holidays shape a sense of cyclical, recurrent time. Rites of passage are the mileposts that guide travelers through the life cycle. In 1909, ethnographer Arnold van Gennep compared tribal rituals in different parts of the world and noted the similarities “among ceremonies of birth, childhood, social puberty, betrothal, marriage, pregnancy, fatherhood, initiation into religious societies and funerals.” All these rites of passage, he observed, consist of three distinct phases: separation, transition, and incorporation.
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