I’ll continue our praise of poetry and invite you to listen to its music with four more selections, all from mid-20th century, except the third which is from early 20th century.
How many of you love the outdoors as I do? To stand alone in the woods inhaling fresh air, to feel the breeze on your skin and see a sunset on a hill is a precious moment in time.
Poetry’s magic is that it can take you anywhere. Today, it takes us to different scenes: a country hill in spring, through a summer’s field, a moment at midnight, and at a farm’s sunset.
“Fern Hill” by Dylan Thomas Source: Fernhill Lodge Cardigan
O this one! This is deep. I had to read it out loud three times to hear the music and its rhythm, a cadence of half rhyme, full rhyme, and end rhyme. This poem in praise of Dylan’s childhood days on his uncle’s farm in Wales, must be heard to be appreciated.
And what better way to hear it than from the poet himself?
It is a song both sweet in the joy of childhood and sad in its loss.
The next poem is a short and simple appreciation of space and time.
“In Praise of Prairie” by Theodore Roethke
The elm tree is our highest mountain peak;
A five-foot drop a valley, so to speak.
A man’s head is an eminence upon
A field of barley spread beneath the sun.
Horizons have no strangeness to the eye.
Our feet are sometimes level with the sky,
When we are walking on a treeless plain,
With ankles bruised from stubble of the grain.
The fields stretch out in long, unbroken rows.
We walk aware of what is far and close.
Here distance is familiar as a friend.
The feud we kept with space comes to an end.
Roethke: scholar, Pulitzer Prize-winner, and poet-in-residence at the University of Washington. Thank you Theodore, for a beautiful description of simplicity.
And now we turn to an earlier poet, Thomas Hardy. In “An August Midnight” we see that he observes nature while writing late one night. Insects enter and become his house guests. They know things that he could not. I honor his humility.
Source: Hill Shepard
A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter—winged, horned, and spined—
A longlegs, a moth, and a Dumbledore;
While ‘mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hand…
Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point of time, at this point in space,
—My guests besmear my new-penned line,
Or bang at the lamp and fall supine.
“God humblest, they?” I muse. Yet why?
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.
We finally turn to a field and see a scene at the end of the day.
It offers us a dainty way, so far removed from our world, of how horses perceive night fall.
“The Dusk of Horses” by James Dickey
Source: Landscape Photos
Thank you for visiting these poems with me and sharing them with the children you know. We’ll pay a last visit to poetry the next time we meet. In the meantime, may you discover new music.