"The Greatest Ornament of the Garden" by John James Audubon‘Hummingbird Communion’ and Other Spring Poetry by Susan Jarvis Bryant The Society May 20, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Poetry, Villanelle 54 Comments Hummingbird Communion I watch them play at dawn of day, as molten gold is splashed their way, on feathers flecked with flashing green and rubies fused in morning’s beam, where sleepers dream and seekers pray. My sabbath aerial display, my seraphim sky-high ballet, means while the worshippers convene I watch them play. At every syrup-soaked bouquet they hover near their sweet buffet that’s blessed with bliss in Eden’s scene (my garden-gilding dopamine) and while the church bells peal away I watch them play. A Timeless Villanelle Let time be still; preserve and freeze the bliss of this delicious day; this dreamy state of seamless ease where skin drinks in the sun-soaked breeze and saffron gilds the gloom of grey. Let time be still; preserve and freeze the zephyr’s tease in leafy trees and scents of hyacinths and hay. This dreamy state of seamless ease, it quells the swell and shifts the seas of destiny to due delay. Let time be still, preserve and freeze the lift that brings me to my knees in praise of Gaia’s gifts; replay this dreamy state of seamless ease. Stop the clock’s tick-tocking! Seize tomorrow, make it melt away… let time be still; preserve and freeze this dreamy state of seamless ease. dark corners give me fringes and edges and cobweb-laced spaces give me fern-feathered verges in untrodden places and I’ll show you the glory of Heaven’s veiled graces where the sun kisses dragonflies’ wings give me dusk-dappled shadows on star-glittered windows give me torn-from-limb bedclothes on honeyed crescendos and I’ll show you the magic of moon silvered willows where the soul of the nightingale sings Susan Jarvis Bryant is a church secretary and poet whose homeland is Kent, England. She is now an American citizen living on the coastal plains of Texas. Susan has poetry published in the UK webzine, Lighten Up On Line, The Daily Mail, and Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets). NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments. CODEC News: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) 54 Responses James A. Tweedie May 20, 2020 Susan, you add a touch of elegance to the term, “turn of phrase.” My favorites: “(G)ive me fern-feathered verges in untrodden places.” “(T)he lift that brings me to my knees.” “(A)nd scents of hyacinths and hay.“ I hear music. The words sing. Lovely. Reply Peter Hartley May 22, 2020 Susan – On re-reading these poems and the comments thereon, particularly James’s favourite bits above, to which I would add “Give me dusk-dappled shadows on star-glittered windows” – it is more and more driven home to me how Hopkinsesque they are. I don’t know if you deliberately attempt to emulate Hopkins’s poetry or not but he must be one of the most proficient and worthiest role-models anyone could adopt. Unfortunately the very greatest poetry he ever composed, without a doubt, are his so-called “”terrible sonnets”, and I don’t think you could ever write a terrible sonnet. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 22, 2020 Peter, I find your comments on Hopkins most interesting. The only poem I vaguely remember of his is “Pied Beauty”, so I revisited it. And, yes, I can see how you would think my Spring poems “Hopkinsesque”. Oh, the glory of those “dappled things”. Maybe in my subconscious, I travelled back to this delight for those “dusk-dappled shadows”. I love his use of alliteration and obvious love of words. I was certainly not deliberately trying to emulate Hopkins, but I am flattered you think so. Maybe the late great poet is channeling me in my efforts to appreciate Spring. I also note that he was born in Essex – right next to my home county of Kent. There must be something in the water (the Thames, no less) that inspires such poetry. This type of lyric poetry is rare for me. One of my favourites is Wendy Cope. She’s from my hometown and I love the way she uses classic form as a vehicle for wonderful, understated humour that I can only aspire to. I have written some terribly funny sonnets. I must check out Hopkins’ “terrible sonnets” and take note of the sonnet pitfalls. Thank you for revisiting. J. C. MacKenzie May 20, 2020 Problems rather too many to enumerate here (the New Age/feminist “Gaia” outstanding among them), but, very simply, as a reader I wonder if the cloying (to the point of suffocation) euphoria is not more about adjectives than nature. Reply Mike Bryant May 20, 2020 Your poetry has always been about joy. No surprise, since that’s what You’re all about as well. I can’t read anything You’ve written without a smile lighting me up. I shared the genesis of these poems with You in our backyard, in wildlife sanctuaries and on road trips. So, when I fill my mouth with Your delicious words, I’m also remembering those sights, insights, sounds and smells and visions that we shared. You make everything come alive. You write like a dream. Don’t pinch me, I don’t want to ever wake up. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 21, 2020 Thank you, biggest fan! As you quite rightly point out, I am definitely in awe of nature. For me, there aren’t enough adjectives to impart with the wonder I feel in the presence of Gaia’s beauty… and I use this term as a Christian poet of Western heritage. 😉 Reply Beverly S Stock May 20, 2020 Susan- so pleasant, so concise. and such a pleasure to find in my inbox. Congratulations. Reply James A. Tweedie May 20, 2020 Joseph, Your comment raises several questions. First of all, are you suggesting that poems that stray from a theologically orthodox, Christian vocabulary and iconography are de facto “problematic?” Second, Is it possible that Susan is simply using the term “Gaia” as a classical/poetic personification of “Earth” (along the lines of “Mother Earth”) rather than as an affirmation or embrace of the ancient–and recently revived Feminist–cult of Gaia? If so, would this be any different from a poetic reference to “rosy-fingered Dawn” or to “Eos painting the horizon with a palette of fire?” Or would these classical references also be “problematic?” Third, last year I posted a “sunset” poem which produced several comments suggesting I had overused adjectives. You, apparently, feel that Susan’s poems suffer from the same problem of adjective overkill. I note that your own poetry uses adjectives sparingly, almost to the point of eschewing them. I imagine a parallel situation where Rembrandt criticizes Raphael for using too many colors, for not making them bold enough (too many pastels), and for failing to adequately capture the contrast between light and shadow in his paintings. This leads to my final question (which others may wish to answer as well). Is there a list of criteria that serves as an objective standard for what constitutes an “acceptable” poem or a “problematic” one (in the context of classical or formal poetry)? And, if there is such a list, what are the criteria for the use of adjectives and for particular theological (or political) positions that would make them a “good” poem or a “bad” one? Just wondering . . . Reply Joseph S. Salemi May 20, 2020 The dislike of adjectives (and their banishment from poetic practice) is usually a hallmark of literary modernism. In the “Do’s and Don’ts of Imagism,” Pound or one of his collaborators wrote that they should be avoided, along with abstractions. To put it into historical context, this hatred of rhetorical copia, of rich descriptive words, and of the “colors” of florid style goes directly back to puritanism, and the Low-Church Protestant distaste for ornament and visual delights. As for Gaia (or the alternate form Ge), references to pagan divinities such as Apollo, Venus, Diana, Cupid, and Jove have been used by Christian poets for centuries. It’s part if our Western heritage. The poet Henry Weinfield once told me that all the problems of American poetry could be traced back to the Pilgrims, and their dreary, barebones cult of “holy plainness,” and their horror at anything “pagan.” Reply James A. Tweedie May 20, 2020 I would be foolish to argue against the general thrust of your argument re the Puritan predilection for “holy plainness.” The figure of Anne Broadstreet, however, may offer an exception to the rule. A Puritan, herself, she married at 16 years of age and emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony two years later, in 1630. Her poetry, published in London and immensely popular on both sides of the Atlantic, walked a narrow line between what was deemed acceptable in both the content of her poetry and in her defiance as to what was considered to be the proper role of women. She is acknowledged as being the first American poet. Here are two stanzas from her poem, Contemplations, showing that adjectives and descriptive beauty were not completely foreign to the Puritan mind. Then on a stately Oak I cast mine Eye, Whose ruffling top the Clouds seem’d to aspire; How long since thou wast in thine Infancy? Thy strength and stature, more thy years admire, Hath hundred winters past since thou wast born? Or thousand since thou brakest thy shell of horn, If so, all these as nought, Eternity doth scorn. Then higher on the glistering Sun I gaz’d, Whose beams was shaded by the leafy Tree. The more I look’d, the more I grew amaz’d And softly said, what glory’s like to thee? Soul of this world, this Universe’s Eye, No wonder some made thee a Deity: Had I not better known (alas) the same had I. And, in “Another” she pleads her case to none other than Apollo, himself: Phoebus make haste, the day’s too long, be gone, The silent night’s the fittest time for moan; But stay this once, unto my suit give ear, And tell my griefs in either hemisphere. For her thoughts about the place of women in society, her lengthy poem, “In Honour of that High and Mighty Princess, Queen Elizabeth,” is worth more than a glance. It’s boldness is striking, even today. It can be found here. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43703/in-honour-of-that-high-and-mighty-princess-queen-elizabeth Joseph S. Salemi May 21, 2020 Anne Bradstreet was a well-educated woman, who was raised and trained in the reading of excellent literature at the estate of the Earl of Lincoln, with its magnificent library. She was familiar with many classical writers, and her Puritanism was more accidental (the result of her marriage) than anything based on strong convictions. As a matter of fact, she LOATHED New England. Her immense skill in poetry came from a traditional humanistic education in literature, not from her religious allegiances. Susan Jarvis Bryant May 22, 2020 Dr. Salemi, I would like to thank you for your erudite overview on adjectives. This thread with James Tweedy has given me plenty to explore and enjoy this Friday morning. As I always say, it’s an absolute privilege to be on a site where much is gained from posting one’s poetry. I am full of gratitude. Susan Jarvis Bryant May 21, 2020 Mr. Tweedie, these are very interesting points which have ultimately led me to “The Sound of Sunset”. I will confess to full appreciation of the adjectives you employ and, for me, they certainly add a mellifluous beauty to a poem describing such wonder. The title showcases the poem perfectly. Reading lines like these, “Chromatic brush-stroked symphonies disclose/A sensuous foretaste of eternity” is an absolute treat. Reply Peter Hartley May 20, 2020 I’m certainly not going to get my feeble pea brain engaged with that one, James, but I think these three poems are wondrously colourful. I will never forget the first time I saw humming birds in the wild* was in Arequipa in Peru – their wings can beat at 60 times a second somebody told me, and I can quite believe it. Their wings are just a blur, unlike this poem which is crisp and sharp and bright. Of the second poem I can only say I admire the technical accomplishment of a well written villanelle like this – I’ve never tried one but I suspect I wouldn’t be very good at it. Do you know I never thought I would ever say this, but what I liked most about the Dark Corners was the two corbel shapes of the stanzas. I don’t know what made you think of it but it does something for the wings and the sings at the end of each, making a more definite coda, or should I say codetta to each stanza. As usualMike above seems to be a bit parsimonious with his plaudits which is probably why I’m making sure the present encomium is a trifle over the top. But fern-feathered verges is inspired.* To be honest this was also the last time I ever saw a humming bird. Reply Peter Hartley May 20, 2020 James, Well, yes I think I will make a comment on this while awaiting your addressee’s response. It’s an interesting parallel you draw between poetry and the visual arts here, adjectives in poetry being the colour of painting. Which and how many you use is your own choice of course and it is never something anybody can dictate. Depending on how sombre (Caravaggio) or strident (Lichtenstein) you are it can be your trademark, but of itself you can’t over- or under-use adjectives. A restricted palette doesn’t make a Rembrandt. What he does with that restricted palette makes him a genius. A tiny palette doesn’t, at a technical level, make W R Sickert and L S Lowry buffoons of the art world but what they do with it does. Compare the handling of colour by Matisse or Dufy with the precision and brilliance of something by Titian or J E Millais. Artists need paint and poets need adjectives, and for me you can’t have too much or too many of either if you know how to use them. Reply James A. Tweedie May 20, 2020 Peter, you clearly caught my drift and I believe we are in complete agreement on the use of adjectives in poetry. Including the word “if” in your closing sentence. Susan Jarvis Bryant May 21, 2020 Mr. Hartley, firstly the hummingbirds. How on earth could someone fail to use ornate language when describing these avian jewels. I am completely swept up in the beauty of these birds and have syrup feeders all over my backyard. Here on the coastal plains, we live on a migratory path and they come to live with us for about four months a year… heaven!! As for my dark corners poem, you are right on your shape observation – I aimed for wing-like. This shape also had the added effect of slowing down the reading in the closing lines of the stanzas, adding more emphasis… or so I thought. I look forward to reading your villanelle. Reply Joe Tessitore May 20, 2020 This reminds me of the Archduke (?) in “Amadeus” complaining that the Mozart that he just heard had “Too many notes.”. Reply Peter Hartley May 20, 2020 Impossible! Although I do think Finnegan’s Wake has too many words and could be vastly improved by putting the end a bit nearer the beginning. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 21, 2020 Joe, what a great argument for an excess of adjectives! Reply Dusty Grein May 20, 2020 Susan, Thank you. This series of poems is beautiful, and your skill at molding the language into a pastel display of images and feelings shines through and is a wonderful way to showcase the beauty that happens when rhyme, rhythm, and form are combined by a true poet. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 22, 2020 Mr. Grein, the words you use to describe my poems is poetry itself, and I thank you for your lovely comment. Reply Lew Icarus Bede May 20, 2020 The rondeau (with parenthesis) is reminiscent of Wordsworth, Dickinson and Millay, the parenthesis, a PostModernist aside. The lines of the oversweet, iambic-tetrameter villanelle sit well between Hopkins and Sitwell; and though I am freer than I have ever been from en-jamb-ment, yours was Dickinsonian in its execution, surprising, almost breathtaking. Though I neither like the rondeau or the villanelle, your compositions fare well compared to any I can think of or remember. Though, I prefer McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” and Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”, yours possess the joie de vivre of the French models. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 21, 2020 Lew Icarus Bede, what an absolute treat to wander through an array of amazing names in poetry all brought to mind by my set of Spring offerings – even if the forms weren’t your favorites. Thank you. Reply Margaret Coats May 20, 2020 Susan, you are a true mistress of these lyric kinds that critic Helen Vendler refuses to call “fixed forms” because the term is pejorative. Her name for them is “fair forms,” and your examples are among the fairest–which I say as an avid collector. As for the sweetness, Christine de Pisan overuses the very word “sweet” in poems where sweetness is the point, as it seems to be here. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 21, 2020 Margaret, you never fail to inspire me to explore poetry in greater depth and this intriguing comment has whetted my “fair form” appetite. Thank you very much for this thoroughly intriguing comment. Reply C.B. Anderson May 20, 2020 Susan, Having already read the numerous comments on your poems, and having appreciated how damn good the poems are, I still must point out a flagrant error in the next-to-last line of the first poem. You wrote “peel,” but I’m sure you meant “peal.” In regard to your quadrameter villanelle, I can say little other than to note that you have fulfilled all the expectations I have for this fixed form. Someday, perhaps, someone will write a trimeter villanelle, but as things stand, it’s not likely that I will be the first to do so. Gaia is, by the way, perfectly ordinary in modern recreations of classical mythology. About the third poem: I don’t know whether you are trying to create an altogether new fixed form or whether you are simply exercising flights of whimsy that employ every poetic device known to Mankind. Either way, I found it engaging and delightful. It reminds of a question some editor once proposed, on whether there might not be a poetic genre that could be called semi-formal. Susan, you get better every day, and that’s no lie. Reply Joe Tessitore May 21, 2020 Well put, C.B., indeed she does, and it’s really kind of amazing to watch it unfold. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 21, 2020 C.B. thank you for spotting the glaring spelling mistake. Maybe Evan can change it for me. Your fine eye and appreciation of my poetry, especially “dark corners” (a tad experimental lol) is most encouraging. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 21, 2020 Thank you for the inspiration, C.B. A Vernal Villanelle My days are dipped in gold and breathless blasts of blue to draw on when I’m old. When frost-nipped nights are cold, I wait for sunlight’s cue; my days are dipped in gold. I watch dawn’s wish unfold in blossoms kissed with dew to draw on when I’m old. Spring’s blush, my eyes behold in all that’s lush and new; my days are dipped in gold. I’ve reaped my dreams and rolled them in the weald’s peach hue, to draw on when I’m old. When Winter’s grasp grows bold I’ll replay life with you – my days are dipped in gold to draw on when I’m old. Reply C.B. Anderson May 21, 2020 Susan, By now, I should know better than to put before you a challenge. Like the best woodworkers I have ever known (Norm Abram comes to mind) you are both fast and accurate. At least let me thank you for sparing me the obligation of writing the first trimeter villanelle. You might or might not have noticed this yourself, but short lines seem to create a staccato effect that doesn’t really add to the beauty of the form. God help us if we ever see a dimeter villanelle! Susan Jarvis Bryant May 22, 2020 C.B., I thoroughly enjoy your challenges and cannot help but rise to them. I agree with you on the “staccato effect” front, which is why I am trying very hard to avoid writing a dimeter villanelle… it’s tough, but I’m trying to hold back… if only for the sake of everyone else! BUT, I cannot promise anything. 😉 Susan Jarvis Bryant May 23, 2020 “ God help us if we ever see a dimeter villanelle!” ~C.B. Anderson I simply couldn’t resist, with a few assonantal rhymes thrown in for good measure – hence the title. God help us indeed! A Vulgar Villanelle Uncivil tongue In shades of blue You’ll come undone You think it’s fun You have no clue Uncivil tongue The gall you’ve spun Won’t bid adieu You’ll come undone Let poison run Let rudeness spew Uncivil tongue For all you’ve stung Each barb you’ll rue You’ll come undone You haven’t won You’ll pay your due Uncivil tongue – You’ll come undone Susan Jarvis Bryant May 23, 2020 RE: My Vulgar Villain-elle This is a work of fiction, but, any resemblance to any acerbic-tongued soul, living, dead or inanimate is entirely purposeful. 😉 Margaret Coats May 23, 2020 This trimeter villanelle from 1891 forms quite a contrast with Susan’s below, in both mood and meter. VILLANELLE FROM GRUB STREET John Davidson (1857-1909) On her hand she leans her head By the banks of the busy Clyde; Our two little boys are in bed. The pitiful tears are shed; She has nobody by her side; On her hand she leans her head. I should be working; instead, I dream of my sorrowful bride And our two little boys in bed. Were it well if we four were dead? The grave at least is wide; On her hand she leans her head. She stares at the embers red; She dashes the tears aside And kisses our boys in bed. “God, give us our daily bread; Nothing we ask beside.” On her hand she leans her head; Our two little boys are in bed. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 23, 2020 Dear Margaret, Firstly, thank you very much for taking the time to read my humble, off-the-cuff effort. Secondly, thank you for posting this thoroughly engaging version of the form. I much prefer the meter. For me, it has the effect of making each line seem longer and more flowing. The staccato effect is certainly not in evidence here. I’m also drawn to the story and heartfelt emotion it portrays. I feel like I’ve read a little piece of harsh history in perfect nineteenth century poetry. I have much to learn. With much gratitude. Susan Jarvis Bryant May 21, 2020 I would like to thank you all for taking the time to read and to comment on my series of poems. I am encouraged by your appreciation of my efforts and I’m grateful for your thoughts, comparisons and invaluable eye for detail. It is an absolute treat to be surrounded by fellow poets who are passionate about their art and impart with such learned observations. I was particularly intrigued by the thoughts on adjectives and I’m heartened to hear that for the most part a splash of color to brighten the poetic day is a thing of joy. Reply James A. Tweedie May 21, 2020 Thank you, susan. Reply James A. Tweedie May 21, 2020 Mr. Salemi. It appears that I have run out of response buttons. Once again, I accept your latest response as being in full harmony with my own knowledge and understanding. Two points of clarification, however. 1. My research asserts that Anne’s family was, indeed a Puritan one, but of a more liberal stripe than those she encountered in New England (which she did indeed, at least at first, find most unsatisfactory). As far as I can discern from her poetry, her feelings toward New England and the evolving Puritanism she faced did, in fact, mellow, somewhat, through the years. 2. I did not intend to suggest that her approach to poetry was inspired by her “religious allegiances,” but only to suggest that within the Puritan communities—including the strict version of that sect in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, there was (albeit reluctantly) at least a tolerance towards both her and her poetry. As many commentators have maintained, the Puritans were not unappreciative of the beauty of this world (it was, after all, the work of God’s hands for both His glory and for their sustenance and pleasure) but ever mindful that heaven is to be sought as an even greater prize. Not was the experience of joy and pleasure absent from Puritan life and thought—although it was to be experienced within set bounds. As I said above, I do not believe that we are in any substantial disagreement. Rod Walford May 22, 2020 Hello Susan – Apologies for my late arrival. I have just ploughed through all the comments and find my brain befuddled with technicalities and word science when all I really wanted to say is that I enjoyed all 3 poems very much ! So I’ll just simply say thank you 🙂 Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 22, 2020 Thank you very much, Rod. I appreciate you dropping by and I’m thrilled you enjoyed my poems. I am overwhelmed by the scholarly responses. They have kept me busy looking things up and reading – I cannot believe my simple Spring efforts have inspired such a response. I am most grateful. Reply David Watt May 22, 2020 Susan, I am also late to this thread. Your poetry has a style and beauty which seems to only improve. I don’t believe we need to count adjectives. The result is all that should count. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 22, 2020 Thank you for dropping by with your fine eye, David. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I also think that poetry can be a matter of taste – I’m simply glad that the vast majority of commenters enjoyed the linguistic splash of color. Reply Mike Bryant May 22, 2020 I must agree with Mr. Hartley, I was way too parsimonious in my praise of these poems. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been labeled with that particular word before, however. So… the way You grace the page with rhymed and florid adjectives is nothing short of poetic pyrotechnics. Someone else said that You employ every poetic device available in the English language. I agree with that, but somehow it feels like You might have a few new tricks up Your sleeve. Whatever form You want or wish to do is always well within Your grasp. I wonder if anyone here has attempted a Fibonacci Palindrome. You somehow figured out how to do it, but, that masterpiece is not better than the beauties you’ve posted here. I disagree with some who’ve said that You’re getting better. What can be better than a superlative? Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 22, 2020 I’m blushing. Thank you, biggest fan. Now every reader knows why I married you. 😉 Reply Sultana Raza May 26, 2020 To Susan Jarvis Bryant, when reading your poems, it seems like we’ve been lucky enough to wander in a dreamy realm created by someone else. The ephemeral atmosphere that these poems have captured is not as easy to craft as your poems make it appear to be. I agree with Mr Bede: ‘yours possess the joie de vivre of the French models.’ You seem to have affirmed Keats’s notion that ‘The Poetry of earth is never dead:’ both literally and metaphorically. Also, I couldn’t help thinking of these bits of juvenilia from Keats, though I much prefer your ‘dark corners.’ Here a few links: https://genius.com/John-keats-give-me-women-wine-and-snuff-annotated https://www.forbes.com/quotes/5300/ https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/53210/on-the-grasshopper-and-cricket Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 26, 2020 Sultana, thank you so much for dropping by to read my poetry and for your generous and wonderful observations. I am thrilled and flattered that I have affirmed Keats’s notion. I’ve just had the pleasure of clicking on every link you provided and marveling at the wisdom, wit and wonder of (to my mind) an admirable poet. Keats has inspired me and perhaps there is a soft beam of his sunshine dancing in my “dark corners”. I’m glad you like it. My homeland is England. I’ve lived in Texas for nine years, and I couldn’t help but wonder what Keats might think of a hellishly hot Autumn here. Below is the result. I hope it makes you smile. http://www.snakeskinpoetry.co.uk/265texas.html Reply Sultana Raza May 26, 2020 Susan, am glad you appreciated my comments. Your Ode to Autumn in Texas didn’t just make me smile. I’m so glad to have discovered these unique phrases too: ‘sticky listlessness,’ ‘teasing timorous twangs of restlessness –,’ ‘goading hummingbirds to zip and vie / in emerald-armoured, fierce, zig-zagging war’ ‘pollen-swollen swoon –,’ ‘mitten-fingered magic,’ ‘sleety sorcery,’ ‘a dearth/of frost to lace a lusting for the fresh.’ To continue in a Keatsian vein (no pun intended), it’s obvious that you’ve been “load(ing) every rift of your subject with ore,” as Keats had had the temerity to advise Shelley in one of his letters: http://www.john-keats.com/briefe/160820.htm I may be wrong, but some of the above phrases seem to have synesthetic associations of the abstract kind: ‘sticky listlessness,’ or ‘emerald-armoured…’ In any case, anyone researching your poetry would have lots of gold mines to discover. In the meantime, I think that most romanticists wouldn’t mind whiling their time away, lingering in your dreamscapes above. Susan Jarvis Bryant May 27, 2020 Sultana, I’m thrilled with your take on my Texas nod to Keats’s ode, and I’m thoroughly intrigued and encouraged by your observations, especially the; “synesthetic associations of the abstract kind”. I have never really thought intensely about the style of my poetry. I am fascinated by form and I like the challenge of its constraints. I try to approach subjects with a fresh eye and language that is enhanced by the chosen form. I’ve used rondeau redoubles for satire, and I love the rondeau for its beauty and brevity – it’s great for nature observations. “dark corners” was a bit of a personal experiment with a wink to the classics. It was inspired by bike-riding through our local wildlife sanctuary. All the tourists had their cameras pointed at the alligators. I had my eyes trained on the miracles in the sun-dappled shadows. At the beginning of this comments section, someone asked, “I wonder if the cloying (to the point of suffocation) euphoria is not more about adjectives than nature.” All I can answer is this. Nature has always fascinated me: the beauty and wonder of it; the cycles of it; the constancy and resilience of it in an ever-changing world. It’s resurrection. Moving from Britain to Texas is such a treat – all the new creatures, the breathtaking, sweat-drenching humidity, the flat infinity of the plains, the screech of the grackles, the sweet trill of the cardinals, the smoky brisket tastes, the frisson of fear (alligators and snakes!!), the golden grass and gunmetal skies, the sheer magnificence. I am humbled by it and try to capture it in my words. Adjectives are not a primary consideration when I’m writing. Capturing God’s superlative creation is. From personal experience, I feel the older one gets the closer they get to the sheer, breathtaking awe of nature. This is what makes Keats so remarkable; his youth belies his understanding. For me, his poetry conveys that senses of wonder. I believe his relationship with nature is directly associated with his relationship to death, and your fine essay captures that perfectly. Your essay and your comments have given me plenty to think about. Thank you for your generosity. Sultana Raza May 26, 2020 PS I also appreciate the way the energy or spirit of your poems seem to emulate their subject, i.e. ‘Hummingbird Communion,’ and ‘dark corners’ above owe their sense of playfulness, or cheerfulness, or sense of contentment to the choice of words used, and the way in which these images are created. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 27, 2020 Sultana, I love this observation. I must be the only poet who doesn’t suffer for her art. For me, writing poems is pure joy, and I’m utterly thrilled I can pass that joy on to readers such as yourself. If anyone, having read this thread, would like to read Sultana Raza’s insightful essay, “Keats in the Time of Coronavirus”, here’s the link: https://classicalpoets.org/2020/05/20/keats-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-an-essay/ Reply Sultana Raza May 27, 2020 Susan, On the one hand it’s difficult for any poet to analyse or think of the various interpretations that people could have of their poems. On the other, I seriously think that you should look out for synesthetic associations (of the abstract kind, if such a thing exists) in your poems. Perhaps you could fish out more from other poems, and write about whether they were intentional or not, and what they mean, if anything to you. That would make for a fascinating read. Two very different writers that I’m interested in, Keats and Tolkien had synesthetic associations in their writings. This field is still more or less in its infancy, and is being researched, so any more finds in it would be interesting. I dare say your nature poems are serving to brighten an otherwise bleak landscape of post post-modern poetry, bursting at the seams with confessional poems. I think that writing is such a personal act, that one would do well to keep the poet’s inner work and efforts in mind when commenting on them. Interpreting and commenting on another writer’s work is quite subjective as well, so one can take various comments with a pinch of salt, including about the glorious perfusion or no of adjectives. I’m afraid it would be quite difficult to induce tone, atmosphere, or the overall feel of a poem without using adjectives or adverbs. Thanks for sharing the link to my essay. Dare I share another one about my poems on Keats here: https://classicalpoets.org/2017/06/06/three-poems-on-john-keats-by-sultana-raza/ Other poems on Keats are fluttering around on other sites too. Susan Jarvis Bryant May 29, 2020 Sultana, you have most certainly engaged my interest on the synesthetic associations front and I will most definitely read further. You also make some very interesting points about poets and readers. Writing is indeed a personal act and when the poet leaves room for reader interpretation, it would serve commenters well to know that their interpretation should be subjective. This may well lead to less prickly interactions – certainly a good thing. Thank you very much for the link. Reply ella May 24, 2021 For me, the fact that it’s very well written. the poem is secondary to the pure altruism it conveys. I must assume that ‘all’ and ‘doll’ is pronounced similarly on your side of the pond. nd hope to see you again in 2021! Love the thoughts in this poem. Reply Leave a Reply to J. C. MacKenzie 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. 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