He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.
~Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
I just love Laura Scott's "If I could write like Tolstoy." So rich in details! Before my younger daughter started reading War and Peace, she thought about writing some kind of [much shorter] contemporary version. After she was into it, though, she said it was perfect as it was.
Scott's poem made me wonder (as poems often do) whether it could be used as a mentor poem: "If I could write like ________ " (Mine is below.)
If I could write like Tolstoy
by Laura Scott
you’d see a man
dying in a field with a flagstaff still in his hands.
I’d take you close until you saw the grass
blowing around his head, and his eyes
looking up at the white sky. I’d show you
a pale-faced Tsar on a horse under a tree,
breath from its nostrils, creases in gloved fingers
pulling at the reins, perhaps hoof marks in the mud
as he jumps the ditch at the end of the field.
I’d show you men walking down a road,
one of them shouting to the others to get off it.
You’d hear the ice crack as they slipped down the bank...
read the rest here
First, I thought about writing a poem about Emily Dickinson or Elizabeth Gaskell, but since it is October, I took a spooky turn with Edgar Allan Poe. [Warning: There are spoilers below, if you haven't read "The Masque of the Red Death."]
If I could write like Poe
by Tabatha Yeatts
you'd see a prince,
waving his mighty hand as he plans a grand seclusion.
You'd hear the pen nibs scratching busily as invitations are dashed
to a thousand healthy, jolly nobles, and in the distance
the grim sound of peasants falling, a mere half-hour
after the first sign of plague seizes them, and the faint drip
of the final exodus of blood leaking down their
stunned faces. I'd show you the supplies being stocked in the kitchen,
the bolts, ready to shut out the unpleasantries of the countryside,
the musicians, the actors, the dancers, swirling
through the doors to provide Beauty and Pleasure
during the long wait. You'd smell the tang of the wine as they
carouse one month, two, three, and on, safe from the
desperation of the forgotten folk outside
who cannot help but eye each other with suspicion.
Not here, though. You'd see that here, the only thing
that makes the partygoers nervous is the grandfather clock
at the end of the hall, the one in the room with black velvet
curtains and scarlet windows. You might even feel uneasy
about hearing that clock chime yourself, despite your cozy seat,
far from the locked abbey doors. I'd bring you with the prince
as he chases someone dressed as The Red Death, determined to punish
this fearsome killjoy. You won't mind if I let you go
into the last room alone, so you can watch the prince,
and then the nobles, struggling to pull off The Red Death's mask,
until they succumb
one by one.
Jama Rattigan has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Jama!