Thursday, March 29, 2012

On "Wonderment"

Let me begin with a little poem inspired by Beenie's arrival last week on the first day of spring.  And then, if you are so inclined, permit me to talk about it a little bit.  Forgive me, but I am in the mood to trip on that wonderful creative process that takes place when a writer gives birth to a poem such as this one.  I hope you will enjoy coming along.


Sunlight slants strangely
against the north fence
today as faint scents
of lilac ride the air;

and that woodpecker
hammering vibrations
down the furnace pipe--
how long has he been there?

Have tulip petals always felt
of velvet?  Have they always smelt
of rain, and daffodils of earth?
Are strawberries sweeter this year?

Have I changed somehow?
Does some new miracle
surge within me now
that you are here?

That's it.  Four four-line stanzas that move from a basic observation to a series of questions that lead the poet to contemplate changes perceived both in the natural world and internally in response to the coming and influence of someone special.  But I totter on the verge of growing too technical here, so let me regroup. 

What I tried to achieve here is a simple love lyric that avoids the pitfall of triteness.  Athough it is specifically about the birth of my grandson, it wouldn't have to be.  For others, it could work just as easily in reference to any significant person who enters their life and changes their outlook for the better.  Hopefully, this gives the piece universality; that is, meaning for a variety of people in a variety of circumstances.  Depending on the situation, the "you" of Line 16 could be, among other things, a lover, a friend, or a long-lost relative just as easily as a new child or grandchild.

I have tried to avoid a sing-song texture by varying linear meter and making the rhyme irregular, subtle, and unobtrusive.  For example, if you look at the end words of the lines, you will find ten of the sixteen lines rhyming with another, but only randomly.  This, plus the other sound devices of alliteration (repeated initial consonant sounds in neighboring words) and assonance (repeated vowel sounds), should enhance the fluidity and the auditory interest of the piece when read aloud.

Finally, just a brief comment on imagery--the use of words that evoke the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.  You should find references to all of these in the poems's first three stanzas, with Stanza 3 being the richest.  The concreteness afforded by this imagery sets the stage for the more abstract inner change ending the poem in Stanza 4.  Because imagery is based on sensory experiences shared and thus understood by human beings, poets depend on it to recreate feelings that readers can identify with.  In this piece, because of its timing and occasion, all the imagery is spring-related.

Enough.  If you have made it to this point, thanks for sticking with me.  I hope the short analysis helps you better understand and appreciate "Wonderment." 

When I was thinking about starting a blog a year ago, one of the topics I considered was poetry because I love it so much.  But in the end, I decided to base it on the grandkids because I love them more.  But upon occasion, a piece like this allows me to indulge my love for both.  That, my friends, is about as good as it gets.   


1 comment:

  1. ". . . as faint scents / of lilac ride the air;" My favorite line! Terrific poem. I'm a poetry lover, too. Who are some of your favorites?