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CLXXXX

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 I was so glad to get back to Georgia after my sojourn in Indiana and Illinois.  I didn’t  so much mind the cold of those winters (OK, I did, sometimes), and I actually enjoyed the snow.  The problem was the way winter refuses to end up there!  When this Georgia boy was ready to see some dogwoods and azaleas blooming, there was still two more months of dreariness to be endured, with nothing green to be seen anywhere!

 

“SPRING” IN THE UPPER MIDWEST

Forty degrees and gray and misting rain,

The sunrise just a lessening of gloom

(You’d hardly call it light) to say that Time

Had not yet wholly failed in its refrain.

Back home the dogwood trees would be in bloom;

Here snowdrifts linger, crusted o’er with grime.

So ends the pure white promise of December:

In April slush and mud it meets its doom–

And we can’t seem to make ourselves remember

Another season or another clime.

We know there once was sunlight; we assume

Somewhere above the clouds, in joy sublime,

It reigns.  But we need faith to fan the embers

Of hope down in this dank and dismal tomb.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

LXXXI

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

            It is now 1978-79, the third year of my classwork for the PhD in English at the University of Georgia.  My apprenticeship to the great Poets of the past was proceeding apace, in other words.  And I was fortunate to have as one of my closest friends Ted Georgian, a man working on his doctorate in ecology who shared my love of the mountains and of hiking.  So manner and matter were both being richly supplied.  The manner this time was the Pearl stanza, used only once before to my knowledge, in a medieval poem by a contemporary of Chaucer; the matter was the same water cycle I celebrated in the previous entry.  The combination was, I hope, more profound but no less playful.

Snow is one phase of the water cycle--here seen on Mount Currahee.

Snow is one phase of the water cycle–here seen on Mount Currahee.

A String of Pearls

The light lit on the light leaves, lost

All its momentum there, and made

A curious transition, crossed

Into the softer light of shade.

The leaves, new light shed on them, glossed

With new significances, played

A game of wit and lightly tossed

Off puns and paradoxes, prayed

The wind to answer.  She obeyed

And joined her most light-hearted voice:

Thus air-light leaves in serenade

May teach the spirit to rejoice.

"Air-light leaves in serenade":  Caras Galadon is a good place to hear them.

“Air-light leaves in serenade”: Caras Galadon is a good place to hear them.

The soul also rejoices when

The growling thunderstorm comes near

To scare away the heat that’s been

Clogging up the atmosphere.

The subtle intensity within

That’s not, but is akin to, fear

Is suddenly shattered by the din

That lets you know the thing is here.

With washing rain and lightning clear

The storm is sent; it has no choice

But to go on its wild career

And teach the spirit to rejoice.

"The growling thunderstorm comes near . . ."

“The growling thunderstorm comes near . . .”

Likewise the joyful mountain stream,

Hearing the voices of the leaves

And wind and rain and lightning, teams

Them all together; whence she weaves

One flowing tapestry which seems

A richer thing than man conceives

In sleep or in his waking dreams.

Beneath enchanted forest eaves

He hears it, and almost believes

It is a nymph’s or naiad’s voice.

It soothes, stings deep, enriches, grieves,

And makes the spirit to rejoice.

"Beneath enchanted forest eaves . . ."

“Beneath enchanted forest eaves . . .”

Rejoicing in the verbal skills

Displayed by her melodic strains,

The stream leaps lightly down the hills,

Spending all the speed she gains

In song and laughter, as she spills

Herself toward the coastal plains.

Gradually then her song she stills:

A stately current which contains

The echoes of a thousand rains,

She bows before a greater voice,

Flows all into it, yet retains

Her own full spirit to rejoice.

"A stately current which contains / The echo of a thousand rains . . ."

“A stately current which contains / The echo of a thousand rains . . .”

Rejoicing in the gift, the sea

Receives her homage and returns

The voices to the air, and we

Hear once again the song that burns

In Nature’s heart.  Wild and free,

Our own blood answers it and yearns

To fly with the light wind and see

The water’s path as it returns

To light on mountain leaves and ferns

And once more in the streams to voice

The song, where air-light-leaf-rain learns

To teach the spirit to rejoice.

And finally to the sea . . .

And finally to the sea . . .

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

Reflections-Front Cover-2013-4-29

An Ode to the Rainy Day

I like rainy days. I know most people find them dreary and depressing, but I find a strange sort of comfort in the low hanging clouds and the drizzling rain.
The other day I experienced the peaceful joy of hearing rain dancing off of a tin roof. On days like that I can sit in a car for hours just listening to the rain and watching it streak down the glass making new patterns. There is something dreamy and almost myth-like to dreary days. I some how feel closer to the earth and farther away from reality at the same time.
Rainy days put me in the mood for snuggling on the couch with a mug of steaming coffee and a really good book or musing on a good story idea. I think my muse likes to stay in on rainy days and brag about all the things she has done on the sunny days. I want to write all of her ideas down and tell all her stories.
Unfortunately, most rainy days I have to get up and go to work in an office that has no windows. Most week days I don’t even know if it is raining or sunny or freezing or warm.
A good day at home with the rain prattling on the windows and cozy feeling of dry house and lots of warm blankets is worth more than ten sunny days.

III

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on “the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.” 

Serious records of my poetic output began to be kept when I got to college.  It is now my freshman year at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, 1969-70.  One thing this Southern boy learned that year was how huge an effect weather in the Midwest can have on one’s mood.  Rain, cold, and snow are not just passing events there.  When they come, they take over.

IMPRESSION I

                                                            It is Thursday again.

                                                            The world’s head is bowed

                                                            By the weight of a cloud,

                                                            And gently, gently falls the rain.

            Why use the ABBA rhyme scheme of Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” for this little impression of a passing moment?  Because its chiastic shape teases you with form but does not have the closure of an ending couplet or even the expected repetition of, say, ballad stanza.  And it is the nature of weather in the Midwest to seem eternal whenever it is happening.  Did the young and inexperienced poet think of this consciously as he built his poem?  No.  It was either good luck or instinct.  Well, it doesn’t hurt to have either.   

Donald T. Williams, PhD