"Reaping the Harvest" by Todd Williams‘Harvest Sonnet’ and Other Poetry by Landon Porter The Society October 14, 2019 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 18 Comments Harvest Sonnet If, in June, clouds crack and seeping, Leak their cache upon beast and field, Surety no longer keeping, This payment, late, defaults the yield; Lest the rain delay the reaping Another week and bring to bear Blight and pests with six legs creeping, To heaven we post one more prayer And hurry; scythes slicing, sweeping Through the amber ocean’s waves, Felling rows, hay bound and heaping As headless stalks stand in their graves Drowned beneath the deluge, steeping, Soaked by tears of June clouds weeping. Magicians of the Night Amidst the dancing shadows gray, That mark the change to dusk from day, A mesmerizing love affair Begins in summer’s sultry air. Cicadas call in voices shrill, Mosquitos bite and spiders kill, As June bugs fly into July, The sun departs, the breezes die. Before the stars emit their glow, Their earthen kin announce the show. Sparkling bright with noiseless wonder, Flashes lightning without thunder. Teasing foes, eluding capture, Near at hand then gone in rapture. The act is grand, our hearts delight, Bravo! Magicians of the night. Landon Porter is an entrepreneur and database developer in Kansas City, Missouri, where he lives with his wife and three children. He enjoys writing formal verse and the inherent challenges therein, and plans to publish his first collection of poetry in 2020. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 18 Responses Joseph S. Salemi October 14, 2019 In “Harvest Sonnet,” the maintaining of the “A” rhyme for eight lines out of fourteen shows great skill. And Porter manages to use it as an active verb, a present participle, and a noun. Reply C.B. Anderson October 14, 2019 Yes, Joe, all of that is true, but I found that the punctuation often did not keep up with the syntax. In the first line, “Clouds crack and seeping” makes little sense without a comma before “and” and a comma after “seeping.” And the meter is all over the place: iambs and trochees are used interchangeably, with little order in the general scheme. And dependent clauses, unattached to anything, seem to litter the wordscape. In the final couplet, I fail to understand how this harvest has anything to do with June clouds. I think this entire poem is an example of what happens when someone, enamored of twitty sound-sculpting, thinks he has appropriated the grand ideal. For me, it’s somewhere between C- & D+. As for the second poem, the only possible response is: Ho-hum. Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 15, 2019 Yes, it’s true that the poem could be improved in many ways. I was just trying to find something that was worth commending. There is a bit too much “sound-sculpting” here at this site, I agree. Too many persons think that classical poetry is speaking in orotund pomposities that sound somewhat archaic. But beginners have to start somewhere, don’t they? Martin Rizley October 14, 2019 I found both of these poems to be quite skillfully written, with a rich vocabulary and a subtle use of poetic devices– for example, the use of onamtopeya in the first poem, both in the first line of stanza one (where one hears the “crack” of thunder and the “seeping” sound of hissing rain from the cloud) and in the first line of stanza three (where the “scythes slicing, sweeping” mimic through alliteration the sound of the reapers). With their vivid images, both poems convey in an evocative manner the sultriness of summer. Reply Landon Porter October 15, 2019 Thank you, Martin. Reply C.B. Anderson January 27, 2020 “Skillfully written” you write, but the poems here are so full of glaring grammatical and syntactical errors that I can’t imagine what you mean by that. Reply Julian D. Woodruff October 14, 2019 Even I, who detest insects, have to give credit for an imaginative tribute on no.2. The switch back and forth from iambs to trochees in 4trains 3 and 4 is handled consistently. A quibble: do I read “Flashes lightning” as verb-subject?; in which case, why not just reverse them? Reply C.B. Anderson January 27, 2020 And by the same token, Julian, why should we not completely abandon any pretense of prosodical order and just throw words together without any semblance of conventional normative standards of syntax, grammar and diction? Well, as a matter of fact, we already have that; it’s called free verse. Reply Monty October 14, 2019 In ‘Harvest’ . . . . I’m impressed with the way in which your rich use of language and metaphor has been cleverly woven into the fabric of a farmer’s anxious lot at that time of year . . and the way in which it informs us of such anxieties. We generally view the words ‘harvest’ and ‘harvest-time’ in a positive light, and I for one (having grown-up in a city) wouldn’t have necessarily been aware of what a fragile and nail-biting time it must be for some. As well as the metrical faults listed above, I must say I found some of the diction to be a bit dense, owing to what seems, in some parts, to be an over-abundance of commas; and in other parts – conversely – an inadequacy of grammatical separation. In L1, for example, when I started reading the poem, I naturally read the words ‘crack and seeping’ in the same way that I’d say ‘hop and skipping’ or ‘rock and rolling’ . . that togetherness of words. Hence, in the opposite context you intended, there simply has to be a separation after ‘crack’, to prevent the reader seeing it as ‘crack and seeping’. A comma would suffice, but to me a semicolon would better emphasise the separation. I personally would’ve dispensed with the first two commas in L1, and rendered it thus: If in June clouds crack; and seeping, Leak their cache on beast and field . . It’s the same with lines 7 and 8. I know there’s a comma at the end of L7, but I feel the separation should be more emphatic, ‘coz the poem’s going from one segment (the threat to the crop, etc) to another segment: “Right, let’s pray one more time”. I would’ve used an ellipsis, as in: Blight and pests with six legs creeping . . . To heaven we send one more prayer. To a lesser extent, I feel that it’s unclear to the reader how L11 should flow into L12. In L4, an ‘s’ should be added to either ‘rain’ or ‘delay’.. Lest the rains delay the reaping Lest the rain delays the reaping I should say that the last 6 lines of the piece – set apart – convey a beautiful sense of imagery and metaphor . . and the last 3 lines in particular are masterful. And I commend your faultless use of rhyme throughout the whole piece. I can’t help wondering whether ‘twas by chance or by design that the third word from the start of the poem is the same as the third word from the end? In ‘Magicians’ . . . . I feel the diction to be much more clear, and the grammar to be much more adequate. And the poem as a whole gives a vivid image of around 9pm on a summer’s evening. This poem seems more considered than the first one (maybe less rushed), and contains some gorgeous individual lines. I didn’t quite grasp the 4th stanza, but the first 3 were well-written, and the 3rd itself was high-class (although I find it inexplicable as to why you wrote ‘flashes lightning’ instead of simply ‘lightning flashes’). For the former to stand-up, it would surely have to be ‘flashes OF lightning’; but even with the added ‘of’, what need was there to write it that way . . when it could’ve simply and snuggly be given as: Sparkling bright with noiseless wonder, Lightning flashes without thunder. Again, the piece is impeccably rhymed from first to last; with none of the rhymes (in either poem) giving any sense of being forced. Reply Landon Porter October 15, 2019 Thank you for your response. To give light to your stated confusion in “Magicians” regarding the fourth stanza, the whole poem is about fireflies (some may call them lightening bugs). They are the “Magicians of the Night”. They tease their would-be captors, eluding them by apparent rapture, and are flashing lightening without thunder. As to why “Flashes lightening…” instead of “Lightening flashes…”, it is to simply connect to the preceding line that also begins with a verb (albeit a different tense). Nevertheless, to me the poem reads the same either way. As to “Harvest Sonnet”, an improved punctuation format would help, as there is a lot going on regarding verb tenses and the sort. I do know that when it is read aloud in the way it is meant to be read, it flows honestly and smoothly and is very easily followed.. Yes, it is not “song-songy” like many formal poems, but I think it still honors the form. Reply Monty October 15, 2019 Regarding ‘Harvest’ . . . . you say that “when it’s read aloud.. it flows smoothly”: but I imagine you’re referring to when it’s read aloud ‘by yourself’. Of course a poem will flow as intended if the author himself is reading it; because the author knows how he wrote it! And because he reads it in such an assured way, I think that can sometimes override any curiosity he may have as to how another might read the same piece. If the flow is so readily apparent to him, he (perhaps unconsciously) assumes it’s as apparent to others. While it’s a vital necessity for an author to re-read their piece exhaustively before deeming it to be ‘finished’, there is also (as I once remarked upon on these pages) the additional option of the author getting someone else to read it aloud to him. Not necessarily the nearest person to hand when the time comes; but one whose reading-level could be described as being in the upper reaches of average.. or above. Get them to read it aloud 5-10 times. It’s surprising how much information can be gleaned from this act (where they pause: where they don’t: on which words they place emphasis: on which they don’t, etc). If this had happened with the above poem, maybe your designated reader would’ve read ‘crack and seeping’ as it looks on the page: to sound like ‘rock and rolling’ . . and you would’ve smelt the rat. As for ‘Magicians . . . . it wasn’t so much that I was “confused” about it; I could see that the poem was describing the scene at dusk when night-insects start doing their thing. But I couldn’t tell from the narrative that it was referring to fireflies exclusively. I thought it was referring to all such insects (gnats, moths, crickets, etc), and that the last stanza may’ve been alluding to the “show” of the insects preying upon/avoiding each other. Forgetting for a moment the order in which the words ‘flashes’ and ‘lightning’ should be placed . . I can see within your last reply that you used the word ‘lightening’ four times: and the word ‘lightning’ not once. Would this indicate that ‘lightening’ was in fact the word you intended to use in the poem, but wrote ‘lightning’ in error? Thus you intended it to be read as . . the FLASHES of the fireflies LIGHTENING up the sky. Was that your intention? Landon Porter October 15, 2019 Thanks, Monty. I appreciate your feedback. Yes, having another person read it aloud would be helpful. And “lightning” is correct . . . “lightening” as I wrote in the comments was in error. C.B. Anderson January 27, 2020 Monty, your objection to “Lest the rain delay the reaping” is misplaced, because clearly this line is in the subjunctive mood, and as such is grammatically correct as it stands. Reply Mark F. Stone October 15, 2019 Landon, Hi. 1. I agree with C.B. that in the first poem there should be a comma after “crack.” 2. I really like the second poem, and here’s why. It’s charming. I like animal poems. I like the capture/rapture rhyme. I think June bugs flying into July is a clever turn of phrase. Having four lines of trochaic meter (lines 11-14), in an otherwise iambic poem, might be unusual, but it totally works for me in this case. 3. Like the others, I was confused by “Flashes lightning without thunder.” In your comment about the second poem, you say that “the whole poem is about fireflies (some may call them lightning bugs).” However, I was not able to discern that from the text of the poem. Neither “firefly” nor “lightning bug” is mentioned in the poem. I thought the poem was about cicadas, mosquitos and June bugs flying around jubilantly on a summer evening. I think that a lightning bug “flashing lightning without thunder” is a wonderful line, but it has to be clear in the mind of the reader that that is what is happening. Two potential fixes come to mind. The first is to include “lightning bugs” in the title of the poem, perhaps: Lightning Bugs: Magicians of the Night The second idea is to make it clear in the third stanza that it is the lightning bugs who are flashing the lightning. Perhaps something like: Before the stars emit their glow, The lightning bugs announce their show, Sparkling bright with noiseless wonder, Flashing lightning without thunder. Best wishes, Mark Reply Landon Porter October 15, 2019 Thanks, Mark. Early drafts of “Harvest Sonnet” actually did have a comma after “crack” (as well as a few others throughout) but I trimmed them prior to submission. I will revise on my end (when I read it out loud, they show up anyway). Regarding “Magicians..”, the full poem was born out of a riddle (the last stanza) and there are hints throughout that there is something beyond the surface level reading. “Earthen kin” of the stars sparkle and flash like “lightening” yet are without the noise of thunder . . . they are seen one moment then gone the next, etc. Without the deeper meaning, it is just a “ho-hum” poem, but there’s more to it than that. I have refrained from spelling it out for the reader so that there is the possibility of discovery. That was my intent anyway, and though noble, perhaps it has fallen short of it’s aim. 🙂 Reply C.B. Anderson October 15, 2019 Do not despair, Landon. Everyone falls short of their aims most of the time. Nitpickers, such as myself, only serve to make others aware of their shortcomings. There are at least eight elements, the successful execution of which, are required to produce a great poem. Let’s see: diction, grammar, punctuation, syntax, theme, connection to the common pulse, innovation, reference (howsoever subtle) to past masters, plus a few other things I can’t remember at present. You have done well, and I’m confidant that you will do better in the future. Landon Porter October 16, 2019 Despair? This is not a term with which I am familiar. But a position of one whose only purpose is to make others aware of their shortcomings (not my words, mind you) is a position of despair if I’ve ever known one. If you can find someone in close proximity, ask them to give you a hug. C.B. Anderson October 18, 2019 Well, Landon, rather than give me a hug, perhaps you should lift a mug (or two) and learn the many details that attend the English language. And then, if it’s not too much trouble, you should find a way not to be so thin-skinned if you wish to continue presenting your work for public consumption. Everyone has an opinion, and for the most part you should let them roll off your back, but nonetheless take them under advisement, if the criticism is warranted. Sleep well, tyro. Do not despair of being unfamiliar with the term “despair.” Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.