Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Robert Frost night

My poetry circle didn't meet last month,
but we're meeting tonight and discussing
3 Frost poems. I made a rather hasty decision
about what to discuss, but I think each piece
will certainly open the group to discussion.

Mending Wall, After Apple-picking, & Design.

Of the three, Design is my favorite. I love all the
layers in this seemingly light and largely naturalistic
poem. It also gives me a chance to discuss
iambic pentameter (which is not unusual in a
Frost poem) but it is not strictly used in Design.

The first stanza is an octet--the second a sestet
with three questions, the last seemingly rhetorical.

It is actually closer to being a Petrarchan sonnet,
though I confess to not knowing much about Italian
sonnets. I am going to read over some literature today
just to spend a little time discussing rhyme scheme,
terms, tone, etc.

Largely we just discuss what works for us in the work,
or we ask each other questions about particular lines
or the work as a whole. The group has been wanting
poets they've read before (so far, they had not
read any of the poets I have discussed--Laux, Simic,
Kenyon, Collins), so, tonight they get Frost.

***********************************************

Design

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?--
If design govern in a thing so small.

Robert Frost

***********************************

Heal-all is a medicinal herb which acts as an antibacterial,
antipyretic (fever-reducer), antiseptic, and antispasmodic
to name a few of its uses. It was once believed to be a holy
herb thought to be sent by God to cure all ailments.

Witches supposedly grew it in their gardens as a disguise.

It is a perennial of the mint family. It has purple flowers
with white undersides. It's also called wound-wort
or carpenter herb (supposedly a reference to Jesus
who was a carpenter and persumably a healer).

(above info gathered from various sources)

2 comments:

Calder said...

Such a beautiful plant that is. I could use some Heal-All right now... smiles!

The poet discussion group sounds fun, they are lucky to have you there Maggie. I enjoyed your little synopsis about Design and always like reading Robert,

I have been working hard the past couple weekes getting a chapbook ms together for submission by weeks end. It was a good experience, my first one. I am fairly pleased with the finished product, just doing a couple days of final proofing and perfecting.

I had jury duty today... I am whipped. Luckily, I didn't get a trial and am done for now.

Peace and love.

Maggie said...

It is a beautiful plant...

group went well...they love Frost and feel he's the only true poet we've discussed--they didn't like my other selections and felt those folks weren't poets--just people writing thoughts down in no kind of orderly way--they are a rhyme and meter group, but I'd like them to expand a bit to include poetry without rhyme and meter...

They want Stevens next month, which I have no problem with, but I was thinking Neruda. Guess I'll think about Neruda for the September meeting.

Good luck with your chapbook!