Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A breath of Spring

photo of Spring field with sandhill crane and spruce(?) tree
© harrington
Welcome. Thanks for stopping by. Do you realize that National Poetry Month is starting to wind down? Less than a week left. As the old Dr. Seuss (or is it Zen) saying goes: Don't be sad it's over. Be glad it happened. Plus, we still have much to cover and I wouldn't be surprised if we visited poetry from time to time throughout the year. Today, though, I'd like to share a poem of Jim Heynan's, a Minnesota poet, that I found in an anthology titled Urban Nature, published by Milkweed Editions.
I Think That I Shall Never See . . .
Seeing a tree as a praying figure is somewhat hackneyed.
                              --FROM A POETRY WRITING TEXTBOOK

I know what I see:
the blue spruce outside my window
is kneeling for morning prayers.
Meanwhile, the oak across the street
scratches the back of the tired sky
and a small bush next door
embraces the innocent sparrow.

And I know what I know:
how the seasons forgive
and restore the dormant and listless:
butterfly, moth, scorpion, insatiable
medfly, militant hornet, who knows what.

Let's face it: everything needs help.
Even this cocoon where my mind
takes solace in its barky recesses
can feel the reverent trees' new breath.
Any second now: exultant branches!
a choir of leaves! Oh!
I'm going to trust you to read this with Snyder's nature poetics points in mind. I'd like to share some other thoughts. Working from the bottom up, this poem uses up all of the exclamation points! a poet supposedly is allowed in a lifetime. From basic declarations, we go to exclamations. Feels to me like the transition from early Spring to late Spring. The mix of creatures listed in the second paragraph, insects plus a scorpion, reminded me that scopions are arthropods, like spiders, which we consider to be insects but aren't. Insects have six legs, not eight. Certainly supports "who knows what" which is antithetical to "I know what I know" and "I know what I see." Now, we come to what I know I see as the "best part." The title (thank you Joyce Kilmer)  has become shopworn and hackneyed. The excerpt is from a poetry writing textbook? Can you say oxymoron? Heynan has breathed freshness into the title and given the trees the help we all need. There's often lots to be learned from a "nature poem" well beyond what Snyder refers to, although I don't think you can go far wrong starting with him. Tomorrow, we'll look into whether poetry can save the earth. Thanks for listening. Stop by again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served daily here in My Minnesota. (By the way, as a reward for reading this far, did you notice the bird in the photo? It's a sandhill crane.)