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poetry circle

One Page Poetry Circle Archive


One Page Poetry Circle

Welcome to the Virtual One Page Poetry Circle!

Date: Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Theme: Shadows

Find a poem! Send a poem by email!

We're back for the fourteenth fall season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people examine the works of established poets. While there is no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry. Since the circle began, participants have selected and discussed 1304 poems and have read countless others in pursuit of poetry that speaks to them.

This fall we will continue to gather virtually, by email. We ask you to send us the poems you have selected on the subject of Poetry and Shadows by October 12th, with a comment on why you chose them. We'll share the poems with you through our blog and by email.

When AnnaLee thinks of shadows the term chiaroscuro, a technique first employed by Italian painters to create depth and volume, comes to mind. In Karen Kenyon's poem "Chiaroscuro," each verse reminds the reader how light and shadow are partners that define each other.

The poem begins:

  • If you want light
  • crack the mirror.
  • Each blade, each sliver
  • Will become a boat of light.

And ends:

  • If you want light
  • go into the blackest night
  • where little by little
  • even the deepest ink
  • will have its shadow of light.
  • Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
  • Lengthen night and shorten day;
  • Every leaf speaks bliss to me
  • Fluttering from the autumn tree.
  • I shall smile when wreaths of snow
  • Blossom where the rose should grow;
  • I shall sing when night’s decay
  • Ushers in a drearier day.

Abigail remembers from childhood Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "My Shadow" that begins: "I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,/And what can be the use of him is more than I can see."

The last verse of this poem combines our theme for October with our theme of wild flowers from last month:

  • One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
  • I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
  • But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
  • Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

We offer you this bouquet of poems about wild flowers.

Abigail, whose favorite flower is the violet, found Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson's "Sonnet," a reflection on the wild violets, "the wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet/In wistful April days, when lovers mate," as opposed to the violets found in florists' shops. From the thoughts of violets the narrator is led to remember her "soul's forgotten gleam."

Roger discovered Amy Lowell's "The Garden by Moonlight" and delighted in the looks, smells, and images of flowers that have been tamed as a means of connecting generations: "Ah, Beloved, do you see those orange lilies?/They knew my mother,/But who belonging to me will they know/When I am gone."

Gail chose "Wild Flowers" by Matthew Vetter which starts: "At fifty-six, having left my mother,/my father buys a motorcycle./I imagine him because it is the son's sorrowful assignment/to imagine his father." Gail explains the images of the poem: "The father, a violent man 'with bad teeth' whom the narrator conflates with a trampling bull, has abandoned the mother. The mother is first exchanged for a motorcycle, then passed over as 'an impertinent mare,' and finally crushed like 'small wild flowers' beneath the feet of the 'snorting and blowing' bull."

Hazel sent "The Rhodora" by Ralph Waldo Emerson which "contains one of the all time great lines—I think—in all of poetry": "Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why/This charm is wasted on the marsh and sky,/Dear, tell them, that if eyes were made for seeing,/Then beauty is its own excuse for being."

Carol enjoyed Eloisa's "Just Call Her Wildflower" which ends, "And she took some more steps/to love herself./She doesn't have a name./she's a wildflower dancing free." Carol wrote, "I responded to this one, identifying with this woman. My own life seems to have been tiny steps, learning to love myself. My responses to flowers, to growing vegetables, and ultimately my ideas about native plants-indeed, wildflowers-leads me to gentler, more loving attitudes toward myself and others."

Steve sent Emily Pauline Johnson's "Fire-Flowers" written in 1903. "With all the forest fires burning right now this poem seems current." Steve remarks that fire is used as a metaphor for grief, noting that the wild flowers that bloom afterwards mark the end of such grief.

  • And only where the forest fires have sped,
  • Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands,
  • A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head,
  • And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed,
  • It hides the scars with almost human hands.
  • And only to the heart that knows of grief,
  • Of desolating fire, of human pain,
  • There comes some purifying sweet belief,
  • Some fellow-feeling beautiful, if brief.
  • And life revives, and blossoms once again.

Ken selected Robert Frost's "Flower Gathering" written in 1912 and published in Frost's first commercially published book of poetry: "They are yours, and be the measure/Of their worth for you to treasure,/The measure of the little while/That I've been long away." Ken liked this poem because "even a short time away from someone can feel like forever," adding, "this is especially true in these troubled times when we should cherish every moment we get to spend with those we love." He notes that the author often wrote about his wife, Elinor, as in this poem.

Scott remembered William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence": "To see a World in a Grain of Sand/And a Heaven in a Wild Flower/Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand/And Eternity in an hour." He writes, "I was looking for a grammatical conclusion to the opening 'To see.' Its absence keeps you in a state of anticipation as the list goes on and yet it seems complete, for that world is without end."

Cate picked "after an illness, walking the dog" by Jane Kenyon, which contains these lines: "When I whistle he halts abruptly/and steps in a circle,/swings his extravagant tail./Then he rolls and rubs his muzzle/in a particular place, while the drizzle/falls without cease, and Queen Anne's lace/and Goldenrod bend low." Cate writes, "The poem presents a consummate awareness and relishing of nature… Being in the company of an energetic optimist we experience a heightened sense of being alive while also conscious of mortality."

Victoria sent "Stanzas for a Sierra Morning" by Robert Hass which begins: "Looking for wildflowers, the white yarrow/With its deep roots for this dry place/And fireweed which likes disturbed ground." She explains that "the essence of this poem to me is how we live our lives surrounded by the amazing and remarkable gifts of nature's beauty, but we notice these astonishing gifts only casually, as we go about the business of stumbling through our lives. Yet the beauty is there always, steadily, dazzling in its presence around us, should we chance upon it in a bright and brilliant wildflower."

AnnaLee chose the Scottish poet Andrew Young's "The Lady's Slipper," which tells of looking for an elusive wild beauty when the author is past his prime. He knows he will never find it again, yet he will keep seeking it as long as he lives. "The poem reminds me of the early June day when I first spotted a pink Lady's Slipper in the forest around our summer cottage. For years I delighted in discovering these rare orchids that popped up from rotting oak. After pine barren fires drove the deer into our woods, the Lady's Slippers disappeared, but I keep looking."

  • Though I know well enough
  • To hunt the Lady’s-Slipper now
  • Is playing blindman’s-buff,
  • For it was June She put it on
  • And grey with mist the spider’s lace
  • Swings in the autumn wind,
  • Yet through this hill-wood, high and low,
  • I peer in every place;
  • Seeking for what I cannot find
  • I do as I have often done
  • And shall do while I stay beneath the sun.

In whatever way your poem mentions shadows or reminds you of shadows, email it to one of us by October 12th, with a brief comment on why you chose it. Can't locate a poem you want to send? Check out Poetry Foundation or poets.org.

In the meantime, please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.

Fall 2021 Schedule
October 12: Shadows
November 9: Hypocrisy
December 14: Mementos

Abigail Burnham Bloom, abigailburnhambloom@gmail.com
AnnaLee Wilson, annalee@kaeserwilson.com


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