Monday, April 07, 2008

April Poem Prompt 1 - Joy

Villa Les Marronniers. That’s the name of our new house in Antibes. Up until today we’d only ever been there in the presence of the old proprietor, an elderly lady who had lots of dark furniture and who kept most of the shutters closed. But this afternoon we opened all the windows, doors and shutters on every floor, let the sunlight stream across the old tiles and the walls with their ghosts of paintings, and Tony played the baby grand piano (the only piece of furniture left) and it felt like the house had woken up from a long, long sleep, almost as if it might be singing!

Yes, I’m euphoric.

What has lifted you? What has made you feel joyous? A place of natural beauty, or a town or city? Someone or something? Maybe a colour, or a shape, or a sound? Is it easier, or is there a more common tendency, to write about tragedy or loss than celebration? Perhaps that’s something Linda Pastan had in mind when she wrote the following poem:


I want to mention
summer ending
without meaning the death
of somebody loved

or even the death
of the trees.
Today in the market
I heard a mother say

Look at the pumpkins,
it’s finally autumn!
And the child didn’t think
of the death of her mother

which is due before her own
but tasted the sound
of the words on her clumsy tongue:
pumpkin; autumn.

Let the eye enlarge
with all it beholds.
I want to celebrate
color, how one red leaf

flickers like a match
held to dry branch,
and the whole world goes up
in orange and gold.

Linda Pastan
from Carnival Evening, New & Selected Poems 1968-1998
WW Norton & Co 1998

Buy now from The Book Depository

What is it you want to celebrate? Be expansive, throw open your poetic arms and don’t be frightened to show the world what brings you joy.


Mark Thwaite said...

Nice poem: although the "And the child didn’t think / of the death of her mother // which is due before her own" is awful!

I like how the poem embraces the fact that it will be read metaphorically and pushes that reading away, but surely knows that at the same time that reading is underscored by the gesture of disavowal.

The child may only think "of the words on her clumsy tongue" but we can't help but also think, as well as "of orange and gold", of "the death / of the trees" and all that always means in a poem, despite the protestations.

Words always get away from us.

Thanks for it!

Anonymous said...

forêt d'automne
il n'y a pas assez de couleurs
dans ma boîte à crayons

autumn forest
there are not enough coulours
in my crayon box

Monika Thoma-Petit

Lynne Rees said...

Glad you enjoyed (most of) the poem, Mark. I particularly love the way the images in the last stanza make me think of life and death, destruction and creation, beginnings and endings. To contain those opposites in such a small space is so admirable.

Thanks for this lovely haiku, Monica. A perfect response to the end of Pastan's poem.

margaret said...

'Bienvenu' to the Villa des Maronniers Lynne! It sounds magical - your description reminded me of 'Jean de Florette'... what a wonderful place to be writing poetry.
Thank you for the latest 'prompt'.
A bientot!

Abegail said...

Perhaps I might suggest reading/listening on Poetry Archive to E A Markham's "To My Mother, the Art Critic" - Markham died yesterday.

Lynne Rees said...

Thanks for that link, Abi. Good to know that we can still listen to Archie Markham's voice and words.

Leila said...

Lynne sounds like you've found the perfect place...enjoy!

Mary Rose said...


Once again this April
in time for your birthday
it blooms in profusion.
Huge now, branches I will never prune
stretch up and out.
This sight the nearest I’ll get
to euphoria now.
I sense you here beside me
marvelling too.

A week later,
our wedding anniversary,
the frost has left its cruel mark,
brown shrivelled petals
replace white pink-tipped blooms.

Each year we looked together
for the lone purple orchid;
For a second year I search alone and feel
uplifted when I see its spotted leaves,
the single stem
piercing the tangle of ground ivy.

Mary Rose.

margaret beston said...


Waking warm together
Seeing blossom against a bright blue sky
Glimpsing bluebells through the trees
Listening to the collared doves
Remembering children’s voices
Breathing in the freshness of springtime
Feeling the promises of summer
Drinking wine as the sun goes down