.

Anew

Whisk me away to the mountainside.
__Spirit me far to the glen.
For I long to find that secret place
__Where I can begin again.

All of us long at least once in our lives
__To flee from all that is known.
But most of us die with this wish on our lips,
__Meeting each change with a groan.

Yet I would die young if it meant that this place
__Should to me be granted or shown;
And if I, by some fate, must relinquish the rest,
__Then I’ll travel that pathway alone.

Throw me to tumult from order and peace.
__Unroot me right down to my core.
For in that place I’ll rebuild once again—
__Until I can do so no more.

.

.

On the Coal-Daughter’s Hill

Sitting atop of the Coal-Daughter’s Hill,
Packed earth, long dry, after weeks of no rain.
Pebbles before me are scattered and still,
Back damp with sweat from the path-going strain.
The road passes out of all sight.

Thinking I hear the slow wheels of a wain,
Laden and straining beneath the black rock,
Pulled by two hands always bearing the stain—
And me only here at the end of a walk.
It soon passes out of my sight,

Leaving me musing on sturdier stock,
The people who shaped my soft world and the still-
Used, yet abandoned route that I walk.
Easing back down from the Coal-Daughter’s Hill,
At length, I pass out of its sight.

.

.

At Walden Pond

Your book, for me, is a touchstone;
For others, a thin broth of old bone
And nettles to be taken only
In dire need, or when lonely
Enough that reading again has some charm.

Your life, for some, is a beacon
Which stands against that which would weaken
Our strength and native capacity
For solitude and audacity,
And atrophy the reach of our arm.

Your project, for others, rings fake
(No matter how well you write of a lake).
When rustic going got tough,
You simply packed up all your stuff
And left to avoid buying the farm.

Now sitting, my feet in your pond,
A realization’s finally dawned:
Some things are easy to overrate,
And easier yet to groundlessly hate—
Yet hardest of all to appreciate
By gathering a thing’s honest weight.

.

.

Talbot Hook is a PhD student and occasional writer currently living in Connecticut.


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10 Responses

  1. Cheryl Corey

    I love the first stanza of “Anew”. I was visually distracted, however, by the last stanza of “Walden”, due to the misalignment of the lines vis-a-vis the rest of the poem.

    Reply
    • Talbot

      Dear Cheryl, I’m not quite sure what happened with the lines in that poem; in my word document, they’re all oriented toward the left margin. But, thanks for the praise about the first stanza of that first poem. I’m glad you enjoyed it. (If there is a moderator hereabouts, I wonder if the last poem might be realigned?)

      Reply
  2. Margaret Coats

    These are carefully structured formal poems, with enough thought in the three of them for an afternoon’s meditation. “Anew” in ballad meter is easiest, though with a shocker in the line, “Throw me to tumult from order and peace.” Along with the unusual word “unroot,” it demonstrates the speaker’s wish not just for renewal, but for re-building to be done by himself. The poem builds up to this powerfully expressed desire.

    “On the Coal-Daughter’s Hill” is enigmatic because of the place name not fully explained. With rhyme-linked stanzas and a refrain insisting on things passing out of sight, mystery develops. In the second stanza, where the speaker THINKS he hears a wain BENEATH the rock, it could be something he never sees. Maybe an eerie echo of miners loading and moving coal underground? It’s unexpected that the speaker, unsure whether he HEARS the wain, says that it soon passes out of his SIGHT. And it leaves him, in the third stanza, musing on the sturdier stock of his forebears. He confirms that he has walked an abandoned route, and when he too passes beyond sight of the hill, only atmosphere is left. Good effect!

    “At Walden Pond” is delightful. I remember the book and the place. The second stanza has complex syntax that becomes clear with a little thinking. Thoreau’s life is a beacon that stands against that which would weaken “our strength and native capacity for solitude and audacity”; wonderful wording! I think, though, that “atrophies” should be “atrophy,” because this second subordinate verb depends (like “weaken”) on the auxiliary verb “would.” That is, the last line of the stanza says that Thoreau’s life stands against that which would atrophy the reach of our arm. The poem’s final stanza advertises itself as such by the change of form: leaving behind the rhyme that links the other stanzas’ last lines, and going to six lines instead of five, with new rhyme scheme aabbbb. A realization of the speaker, emphasized by emphatic rhyme.

    Thanks for the afternoon’s pleasant reading and study!

    Reply
    • Talbot

      Dear Margaret, I fear you’ve perhaps given my crude creations too much thoughtful praise, but I am appreciative, as ever, for your intelligent and generous commentary.

      The first poem speaks to a sort of Baggins-like quality in myself; while I normally love where I am, and am a creature of comfort, occasionally I desire to completely deracinate myself for a while from everything and experience unbounded freedom. (Inasmuch as this is ever possible.) The two sides are always tugging at one another.

      In the second, the struggle of a wain beneath the black rock can be read multiple ways. I was envisioning a ghostly wagon heavy-laden with coal passing by, but I very much like the enigmatic sounds of a coal-cart underground. (That might even be a better “vision”!)

      Walden Pond is a truly marvelous place. It manages to maintain some of its purity and charm even while inundated with tourists. Of course you are absolutely correct that “atrophies” should be “atrophy.” I apologize for the grammatical blunder/oversight. (If a moderator would change that, I’d be much obliged!)

      Again, Margaret, thank you, and have a lovely day.

      Reply
  3. Anna J. Arredondo

    Talbot,
    In “On the Coal-Daughter’s Hill” I like the feeling you created of two contrasting worlds brushing by one another in passing — the sturdier stock, laden and straining, that shaped your soft world; and you of that softer world, only there at the end of a walk…

    Reply
    • Talbot

      Thanks so much, Anna. It was a strangely melancholic place/mood, so I hope I did it justice.

      Reply

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