Thursday, October 5, 2017

The thing the poet thinks

Heaven deliver us, what's a poet? Something that can't go to bed without making a song about it.
~Dorothy L. Sayers

Glass Jar by Steve Johnson

Poet connections this Poetry Friday. First, a poem by Robert Francis:

by Robert Francis

Words of a poem should be glass
But glass so simple-subtle its shape
Is nothing but the shape of what it holds.

A glass spun for itself is empty,
Brittle, at best Venetian trinket.
Embossed glass hides the poem of its absence.

Words should be looked through, should be windows.
The best word were invisible.
The poem is the thing the poet thinks.

If the impossible were not,
And if the glass, only the glass,
Could be removed, the poem would remain.


Robert Frost was Robert Francis' mentor, which brings us to this excerpt from a poem by Galway Kinnell written for Robert Frost:

from For Robert Frost
by Galway Kinnell

Poet of the country of white houses,
Of clearings going out to the dark wall of woods
Frayed along the skyline, you who nearly foreknew
The next lines of poems you suddenly left off writing,
Who dwelt in access to that which other men
Have burned all their lives to get near, who heard
The high wind, in gusts, seething
From far off, coming through the trees exactly
To this place where it must happen, who spent
Your life on the point of giving yourself away
To the dark trees, the dissolving woods,
Into which you go at last, heart in hand, deep in:

When we think of a man who was cursed
Neither with the all-lovingness of Walt Whitman
Nor with Melville’s anguish to know and to suffer,
And yet cursed . . . A man, what shall I say,
Vain, not fully convinced he was dying, whose calling
Was to set up in the wilderness of his country,
At whatever cost, a man who would be his own man,
We think of you. And from the same doorway
At which you lived, between the house and the woods,
We see your old footprints going away across
The great Republic, Frost, up memorized slopes,
Down hills floating by heart on the bulldozed land.

(read the whole thing here)


Kinnell mentions Whitman in that poem, as does my daughter in her poem For You, which you can read here.


Violet Nesdoly has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Violet!

Ah, yes, I almost forgot -- don't forget to submit to the mistakes anthology for middle schoolers! We could use some more poems about historical blunders (The Tower of Pisa, anyone?), and I'm not sure we have any about fictional flubs. (What's a fictional flub, you wonder? Edmund in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe makes a famous mistake...) Updated to add: Got a Tower of Pisa poem!


Kay said...

I love that quote at the beginning! And there is so much to think about in the two poems you share. I especially like Glass. The words are the container that just hold the idea inside. The difficulty is in getting the words to get out of the way so the idea shines through. I'm working on a mistake poem and hope to have it to you shortly!

jama said...

Enjoyed these poems, Tabatha. "Glass" speaks well to the goal of good writers -- make the words disappear so the reader can fully enter into the world of the story or poem, merging with idea and emotion.

michelle kogan said...

You've given us much to think about Tabatha. I saw a connecting thread of passages–openings–glass as a container but with nothing and everything inside at the same time, a vessel to pour thoughts into. And then the passages between white houses and the dark woods–but where would this poem be without the beginning. And your daughter's poem are more passages, beginning in a field and closing at a lake which is deep with layers of reflection.

BTW I have a poem started–working on it. Thank for all.

Violet Nesdoly said...

Fascinating connections, Tabatha. Now you've got me wracking my brains and memory for more poems that reflect on / off other poets' works. I will be back if / when connections come to mind.

M Pax said...

The poem about glass is very thought-provoking. I really enjoyed it.

Mary Lee said...

Galway Kinnell gets Mr. Frost just right!

Tara said...

I loved the way Kinnell celebrated and understood the Frostiness of Frost in his poem - but I loved the haunting love in your daughter's poem, best, Tabatha. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Linda B said...

Is this new that your daughter won the prize, Tabatha? Congratulations to her for the beauty of this love poem and the recognition, Tabatha. The KInnell poem about Frost makes me wonder what Frost think about it? I will have to research their relationship, and perhaps others of you know about it. Thanks for the connections.

Laura Shovan said...

I like Francis' idea of the poem as a vessel. It doesn't only hold words, but also experiences, emotions. That can be helpful -- especially for teens -- having a vessel to pour their feelings and questions into.

Rebecca Herzog said...

Thank you for sharing these two. I especially enjoyed the idea of a poem being something to look through and observe to see the meaning.