Archive for November, 2006

“Winter Field” by Ellen Bryant Voigt

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

“The winter field is not

the field of summer lost in snow; it is

another thing, a different thing.

“We shouted, we shook you,” you tell me,

but there was no sound, no face, no fear, only

oblivion–why shouldn’t it be so?

After they’d pierced a vien and fished me up,

after they’d reeled me back they packed me under

blanket on top of blanket, I trembled so.

The summer field, sun-fed, mutable,

has its many tasks; the winter field

becomes its adjective.

For those hours

I was some other thing, and my body,

which you have long loved well,

did not love you.”

I really like this poem and what she does with the concept of a “winter field.” What is more like oblivion than a winter field? What is more cold and useless in its expanse than the winter field? I think this image is what I was trying to achieve in one of my poems. I also really like how the image of the winter field is interwoven with that of the speaker’s body, who “did not love you” while it was like a winter field. A summer field is loved, is played on, is used; a winter field is just an empty space.

Song for Autumn, by Mary Oliver

Monday, November 6th, 2006

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

i thought this poem was appropriate considering that it’s fall now and a lot of the leaves are really starting to change. i liked this poem because of the sense of anticipation, of fall coming to full bloom. i also liked the enjambment; the way it was crafted allows each line on its own to have significance, or simply to sound pleasant. also, the stanza arrangement (the hanging lines) helped to lend rhythm and keep the poem from being a solid block of text.

By Accident

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

First she gave me the wound by accident.
Then the tourniquet she tied unwound by accident.

Your friend may want to start running.
I gave his scent to the hounds by accident.

Balloons on the mailbox, ambulance in the driveway.
Bobbing for apples I drowned by accident.

Did someone tell the devil we were building Eden?
Or did he slither on the grounds by accident?

I said some crazy things, but I swear, officer,
I burned her place down by accident.

Only surfaces interest me.
What depths I sound I sound by accident.

“What should we look for in a ghazal, Amit?”
Inevitabilities found by accident.

Amit Majmudar
Antioch Review
Special Issue: Memoirs True and False
Fall 2006


This is my first poem posted that was actually the poem of the day, rather than from the archives.  Ghazal, I had to look up.  Here is the definition:

n. [Ar. ghazal.] A kind of Oriental lyric, and usually erotic, poetry, written in recurring rhymes.

This tells me that someone (a student?) was asking the author what to look for in a poem, and the part about recurring themes clearly helps explain the repetition of “by accident” (as if poetry needs justification!).  To my taste, this repetition is right on the edge; I like it, but I’m quite close to thinking it’s too much.

 Amit (as the poet names himself in the poem, I have the unique luxury of conflating speaker with author without risk) seems to be giving examples from various different scenarios, each compelling, each poetic in their terse power, rather than forming a full narrative.  I enjoy the technique.  The various examples sometimes seem like real accidents and sometimes are obviously not.

 I don’t understand the idea of inevitability here.  Equating an accident with something inevitable is certainly very ironic and interesting, but I don’t see the poem as proving or exploring this directly.  It is the sort of poem I wish I could speak to the author of.

Representative Poetry Online

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

I thought this would be a good place to share my favorite poetry site with some like-minded individuals.  The RPO site has a large collection of major English-speaking poets from many eras.  As it stands on canon, there are fewer present-day poets than might be desired by some, but there is no real use in expecting any one site to have everything.

 The collection, after all, is large enough that no one could can feasibly read through it all.  A function I enjoy greatly is the random poem button.  You can press it, and it will keep refreshing with a random poem, which I skim briefly, see if it looks promising to me, then move on.  I’ve collected a number of poems I like a lot this way, even if it is fair to say that I’ve unfairly skipped a lot of poems that way as well.

 I’ll link one such poem here.