I know — yesterday it was tea, but this morning two things happened.
First, I was reading the notes for the third Glokel Yokel Poetry Hour from Greg McVerry. The topic this week is using images. Yes, a radio show will use images to create and discuss poetry — it will be a fantastic experience, as the previous shows have been– sharing and talking poetry– not analyzing poems, but enjoying them and knowing why— being able to express that joy at reading and hearing words that connect us to our world and to each other, which is what poetry does.
A poet creates images with words– just the precise words in the best place and the right rhythm to flow into the imagination and emotion of the reader or listener.
I immediately thought of two of my favorite poems– two of the four poems I carry on “Poem in Your Pocket Day,” which is April 30th this year. This is one of my favorite days of the year, and my students would choose their favorite poem to write or draw out, make copies of, and carry in their pockets to give away to anyone they met who had no poem on this special day.
The first poem creates a perfect image of our national bird — just a few words describe its power and importance–
Alfred Lord Tennyson – 1809-1892
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
The power of the “clasping the crag”
those crooked hands– the talons so clutching the cliff
close to the sun — so above us and in
the blue of a brilliant sky –azure world
high in the sky, his realm, as the ocean below crawls
and with the power of a thunderbolt he dives.
If you’ve ever watched an eagle, this is the creature for sure.
Six lines — a moment in time — whose words roll together in alliteration, the syllables timed to rhyme, and from the top of the crag to the deep ocean, the eagle rules.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about poetry in his anthology in 1880, and he reminds us of this brevity or choosing just the right word to create the tone and heart of our lives:
“Poetry teaches the enormous force of a few words, and, in proportion to the inspiration, checks loquacity. It requires that splendor of expression which carries with it the proof of great thoughts. Great thoughts insure musical expressions. Every word should be the right word…It may or may not have rhyme or a fixed metre; but it will always have its special music or tone. Whatever language the bard uses, the secret of tone is at the heart of the poem.”
Preface to “Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1880
So, a poem that does have a music and rhyming flow is from Robert Frost, who captures a more calm moment in time, also one we may have experienced and nod in agreement at the little things that make our day:
By Robert Frost
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
I’ve been there in the woods, walking to work off some annoyance, when the plop of snow on my shoulder snaps me into the moment, the now of nature and beauty of the world, no matter what else drags us down. Probably just the wind, but could have been a crow. Definitely, “A dust of snow… A change of mood.” Read it again –set in a flow of just a few words whose rhythm and rhyme bring that moment in time alive. I love it, especially that phrase, “dust of snow.” And how often has even a brief walk in the neighborhood brought you some lightness and a smile?
Each time you walk, a poem awaits.
Like this one, upon discovering chalked sidewalks and walls:
Click image for larger version — this poem and six lines can be read in columns or rows. But the point is the image discovered just passing by inspired the words — a few words — that bring the world of small ones back into our minds.
Into our minds, the images we notice form who we are and who we love. And that brings me to the second thing.
As I was remembering these two favorite poems, a second thing happened. I could hear, as I searched on my device for these two favorite poems whose words, images, and emotions seemed to fit week three my #clmooc friends’ poetry talks, the grinding of coffee. The aroma of freshly brewing coffee brought a comfort of our every morning, and I knew the smile that would soon greet me. It reminded me of my most favorite poem, one written by a local man, a Native American, Phil George, who years ago passed away. I was surprised that his poems, which are well-known by some and have won many awards, are part of my usual poetic place, Poets.org, because, once again, a moment in time in just a few well-chosen and placed words, create an entire emotional impact of love and care:
This evening I prepared Wardance Soup
before the Many Trails Powwow.
Her recipe was the same:
boiled stew meat
sprinkled flour and salt
Somehow, Grandmother’s flavor
of singing and her pinewood fire
was something special
I could not add.
Rosen, Kenneth, R C. Gorman, and Aaron Yava. Voices of the Rainbow: Contemporary Poetry by American Indians. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2012.
An entire family event is recreated here for us, a memory now cherished, of that moment remembered cooking with grandmother: the meat and onions, the powwow beats, the song, the aroma of soup and fire: flavors held in honor.
I love that poem, smiled remembering it, just as Scott held out his hand with my coffee, with cream, a good morning smile greeting me. I knew that was my poem, my image, for today– modeled in my own way from Phil’s lovely poem– of my each day, each morning that I cherish:
Each morning I hear the coffee grinding
to add to the drip coffee pot.
His process is the same:
grind the beans
fill the filter
measure the water
And I know, Scott’s smile
handing me a freshly brewed cup
is that something special
I would miss so much.
And that is the power of words, just a few, to hold in our minds the moments of our lives that are so precious we want to share and hope the words bring images of meaning to those who care to read them.
Thanks to my friends Greg, Kevin, Terry, and Sarah [and more] at Glokel Yokel DS106radio for the inspiration for today’s post.
Write a few words of a moment of your day— rhyme or not, choose them to honor a person or event, of nature or nurture. Take time to write just enough in just the right way to bring appreciation to that moment.
About this post:
Be safe out there. Find ways to help yourself, your family, and others keep going! We can do this together!
April is time for NaPoWriMo — National Poetry Writing Month, try a bit of poetry and art to encourage others to be safe with each other. Something short. Something inclusive. Something of spring and hope. #NaPoWriMo/#GloPoWriMo
National Council of Teachers of English also offers suggestions here.
Tune in to Glokel Yokel DS106radio for inspiration.