Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Literal and figurative poetry

Read Write Poem has an outstanding prompt this week. Read it. It contrasts use of literal and figurative language in poetry.

I write all over that spectrum, although I lean towards the figurative much of the time.

First Flight

This month you hear the geese at night,
they’re headed south to winter pastures.
The spring-hatched chicks on their first flight

attend their leader’s cryptic gestures,
wing to wing with nestmates, while
they’re headed south to winter pastures.

In early spring I had to smile
at fuzzy, stripy gosling clowns
wing to wing with nestmates, while

their warm but flightless infant down
was molting into stronger feathers.
The fuzzy, stripy gosling clowns

have learned to fly in every weather:
the flutter of new-plumaged wings
was molting into stronger feathers.

It’s not the time when warblers sing.
This month you hear the geese at night,
the flutter of new-plumaged wings,
the spring-hatched chicks on their first flight.


Wild Geese

I heard this sound--
trembling trumpet, heart-breaking, waking, shaking the air with echo ecstatic
louder than thunder rumbling, rolling, falling golden and fading
to untarnished silver in middle air.
Harbinger, herald of what hallowed approach?
Waiting, bated breath, still-standing heart hearing stillness,
dizzy with dazed anticipation.

In answer rising, dancing from distant horizon, wild wing-wedges widen
overhead the rush and flash of feathered pinions!
Feathered frames encompass compass hearts, trumpet-called to northern shores and skies,
guided by pole-stars in their golden eyes.
Follow, hollow hearts, slow feet abandon at trumpet's command--
guided by pole-stars into far northern skies.

7 comments:

barb michelen said...
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Crafty Green Poet said...

I love geese, very inspiring birds and your two poems are both excellent and an interesting contrast to each other

paisley said...

bravo tiel... i would say you owned both forms here.....

Dick said...

For me, the first poem works best. The discipline of the form - & it's a tricky form to manage well - marshals & points the language to more focused effect. It's a tight piece of writing & an engaging narrative.

...deb said...

I pay attention to their call, too. I sometimes hear them at night, overhead, and wonder at their abilty.

I liked both poems very much, though you make the villanelle look so easy, it might be my favorite. The second's language is expansive, worshipful even. And I like that, too.

Penelope Anne said...

I thought of doing both styles but couldn't do it....you dd it superbly.
Thank you.

SB said...

I am so impressed with the villanelle -- such a challenge to pull off well, and you've done it!