7:56 a.m. — Atlanta
listening to E Ku’u Morning Dew by The Brothers Cazimero — I know: I have eclectic tastes in music
Hello, all. How are you? Does anyone out there have decent weather? We’ll have to start building arks soon. I am aware of the irony that I am writing a prompt about land as I look at yet another day of water (which, ultimately, is good for the land). Not that we’re doing anything exciting weather-wise, just that it rains ad nauseam.
What is a sense of the land? Each time I woke up last night, I grappled with that question. I’m not sure my explanation will be particularly articulate. The good news, there, is that you can interpret the phrase in any way you please. A definition will be clearer as to how I am thinking of the land (before I take off on tangents).
‘Old English land, lond, “ground, soil,” also “definite portion of the earth’s surface, home region of a person or a people, territory marked by political boundaries.”
Etymological evidence and Gothic use indicates the original sense was “a definite portion of the earth’s surface owned by an individual or home of a nation.” Meaning early extended to “solid surface of the earth,” which had been the sense of the root of Modern English earth. Old English eorþe “ground, soil, dry land,” also used for “the (material) world” (as opposed to the heavens or the underworld).’ (Online Etymology Dictionary)
Got that? When you think of this, think of it as THE land, not land.
Here are the possibilities for a poem: you can write about what a sense of the land means to you. You can write about what a piece of land was and what it is, whether or not the sense of the land evolved with the land itself. All you gardeners have a particular sense of the land. A poem from a gardener’s point of view works as an intimate look at the land. Those who grow vegetables, as opposed to flowers, you have a slightly different sense of the land. Something to think about: Can an urban setting have a sense of the land? You might write about a sense of the land that you have gotten from a movie, or paintings, or a photograph. You can write a positive versus negative poem. Or, you can paint a picture in words.
What type of poem? Lovers of form rejoice. A sonnet is particularly well suited. However, as with all your poems, you should choose a form (to include free verse) that suits the content. It might be a fascinating exercise to write haiku. Consider a poem from the point of view of the land.
I am going to leave you with a couple of poems that embody a sense of the land and a link to a page of quotations about the land. You might use one of the quotes as your focus, or inspiration. If you do, let us know which one. In fact, for this prompt, you might want to give a context (but, of course, not necessary).
The first poem is ‘Puritan Sonnet’ by Elinor Wylie:
Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones
There’s something in this richness that I hate.
I love the look, austere, immaculate,
Of landscape drawn in pearly monotones.
There’s something in my very blood that owns
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
A thread of water, churned to milky spate
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.
I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meager sheaves;
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom’s breath,
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.
I love the intimacy of the speaker’s feelings against the vastness of the land and the way Wylie makes the speaker’s vision sound like a watercolour. The second poem, ‘Ozymandias’ by Shelley, gives a sense of the land as bigger and more enduring than even history:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert …Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things.
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Have fun. Note I did not ask you to list or jot. In this case, I want you to ponder. I shall see you Thursday for links and such; Friday for the roundup; and next Tuesday for something (I need to ponder).
Happy writing, all.