Post Series: Advent: A photograph to inspire poetry: Rose hip

This is the last post of the Advent Post Series.  Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the next day is Christmas.  There will not be a new post on either of those days.  The next new post will be on Thursday December 26, 2019.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

In this post series there have been five poems, five poetry topic ideas, five poems with explanations, four artworks to inspire poetry, three bilingual poems, one experimental poetry form, and one poetry essay.

As there has not been a photograph to inspire poetry, that is the subject of today’s post.

Rose hip

The photograph above is of a rose hip.  It can be tied to Advent in the sense that it isn’t what is normally noticed about a rose plant.

When people look at a rose plant, they will typically look at the flowers.  It is the important part of the plant visually.  It is what people think of when they think of roses.

The rose hip though is important because it carries the seeds of the plant.  It is actually more important in some sense than the flowers themselves.

When Jesus was born on Christmas Day, he wasn’t necessarily seen as important by those in the world.  Some people (the magi and the shepherds) took notice of him, but others did not at least in a positive way.  In some sense, the world overlooked him.  Part of this notion is in the idea that Mary and Joseph could not find a place to stay.

Although Jesus was overlooked, he is obviously very important.  He was more important than the more visually important looking people (like the rich and noble) in Bethlehem and the surrounding area.

This notion, of overlooking what is important can be used in poetry.  It can be applied to many different things.

Here is an example poem using the idea:

the girl was ill
and her father sent
the small boy
to the woods

“collect the leaves
of the small round bush
and bring them back
to make her well”

the boy walked out
into the woods
and found the bush
of which is father spoke

upon the plant
the leaves were dull
a muted green
the blended away

the berries though
were bright and shined
they glistened in the sun
and seemed to call out

the boy did think
his father had been wrong
a mistake was made
maybe in his worry

the boy with a smile
filled his bag
with berries that shined
in the sun

he brought them back
so filled with joy
thinking he had
understood more

he poured the berries
into the bowl
and held them out
for his father to see

“what are these
that you brought here
it was the leaves
you were to get”

“the leaves were dull
the berries did shine
you were surely wrong
these can heal”

“no poor son
though the berries
shine in the sun
they do not heal

the leaves though dull
have what’s inside
to heal your sister
from what ails

go back son
and hurry now
collect the leaves
before time runs short”

the boy ran back
into the woods
and found the plant
with the dull leaves

he picked them off
and filled his bag
and brought them back
to his small house

with tears in his eyes
his father spoke
“it’s too late son
your sister’s gone”

the son fell down
upon the ground
as the leaves did fall
onto the dirt

he grabbed the berries
and threw them out
and ran away
into the woods

before the plant
his tears did fall
and he wished he had
believed the truth

Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: they kept the day

the pillows changed
from brown to red
the throw from yellow to green

the plants were changed
for evergreens
with berries that could be seen

a chicken cooked
with leaves of sage
and potatoes in a pot

a pie was baked
with orange yams
just the way they had been taught

a drill was bought
a sweater too
both placed within birthday bags

a truck with wheels
a brand new doll
in blue boxes with no tags

the day did come
and none did leave
no words outside were spoken

they kept the day
beneath the lights
so faith would not be broken

 

This poem is about celebrating Christmas in an oppressive society.  The society has rejected Christmas and its observance.  People who observe Christmas are ostracized.  In the poem, a family celebrates Christmas in a hidden way.

The poem sounds nice.  It seems to show a celebration.  In each stanza though, an element of the hidden nature of the celebration is shown.

In the first stanza, the family can’t decorate for Christmas with traditional decorations.  Instead, they change the throw pillows on their sofa from brown to red and change the throw on their sofa from yellow to green.

In the second stanza, the family is afraid to put up a Christmas tree.  Instead they change out their house plants for evergreens with berries.

Rather than cooking a turkey or a ham on Christmas, the family cooks chicken in the third stanza.  They flavor it with sage to get a sense of the traditional taste.  They are fearful of having a big meal, and only cook potatoes as a side.

In the fourth stanza, rather than making a traditional pumpkin pie, the family makes one with yams.  As the oppression has being going on for some time, the recipe is one they had been taught.

In the fifth stanza, the adults buy gifts for one another.  They only buy one each and put them in birthday bags rather than wrapping them with Christmas paper.

In the sixth stanza, the children are bought presents.  Again they get only one each, and they are put in boxes that are blue, which isn’t a Christmas color.

In the seventh stanza, Christmas day comes.  The family does not leave their house to visit relatives or to go to a church service.  When they do see someone they don’t say merry Christmas (no words outside were spoken).

In the eighth stanza, a summary is given of the family’s activities.  They kept the day beneath the lights of oppressive scrutiny in a hidden way so faith would not be broken.

Although modern society isn’t oppressive this way, there are signs of the secularization of Christmas.  Many ads for example reference “holidays” rather than “Christmas”.  The same occurs with company and organizational observances.  There is a “holiday party” rather than a “Christmas” one.

As any belief means something is not believed there will always be those who either disagree with the belief or who don’t feel the belief should be overtly expressed because others might disagree with it.  It is covering over a belief either because of secularization or political correctness.

The poem shows a society that takes this idea to a farther point.  Instead of covering over Christmas, the society feels it is bad.  As some disagree with the Christmas observance, the society has developed a culture of disdaining the observance.  It has gone from Christmas to “Holiday” to nothing to seeing the observance as something negative.  It sees the observance as bad and sees those who participate in the observance as bad as well.

The poem shows a family that tries to observe Christmas under these circumstances.  They try to observe it in a hidden way to keep the tradition but also not to face backlash.

In terms of form, the stanzas have a syllable count of 4-4-7.  The stanzas are in pairs with the last lines of each pair rhyming.

Post Series: Advent: Poetry topic idea: Advent

Today’s poetry topic idea is Advent.  This matches the theme of this post series.  A poet could write about a number of things related to Advent.  They could write about:

  • An observance of the time.
  •  

  • Anticipation of Christmas.
  •  

  • Special days during Advent.
  •  

  • Religious observance during Advent.
  •  

  • Preparations for Christmas during Advent.

Here is an example poem using the idea of Advent:

forty days each year
it’s an opportunity
don’t let it pass by

Post series: Advent: Poem: Christmas observance

Sometimes,
when a person looks out,
at how Christmas,
is observed,
it can seem,
a bit disheartening.

More and more,
people say “holidays”,
rather than “Christmas”. (Have you seen ads lately?)

Christmas specials,
although they might be special,
can often seem,
to have too little Christmas in them.

Everything,
can seem,
to be about shopping,
and decorating,
and running about,
like Christmas is a verb,
and some sort of expectation,
you are supposed to meet.

It is like,
society invented a festival,
and if you don’t do all the things,
you’ll be missing out.

Instead of feeling bad though,
or complaining,
or writing long social media posts,
maybe,
it would be better,
to just observe Christmas,
in a better way,
yourself.

Maybe,
by doing things,
like giving to the poor,
volunteering,
praying,
reading the Bible,
going to church services,
being kind,
and reflecting,
on the purpose of all of this,
you can feel a little different.

Maybe,
by observing Christmas,
in a better way,
you can have more,
of an impact,
on how others observe it.

Maybe,
the best way,
to change things,
is to start,
with yourself.

Understand though,
this isn’t a criticism,
it isn’t,
the opposite,
of what these words,
purpose.

Rather,
hopefully it’s something,
that can help you,
to less see something as bad,
and rather,
focus instead,
on doing something good.

Post Series: Advent: Poetry topic idea: Christmas carols

Today’s poetry topic idea is Christmas carols.  Rather than writing about Christmas carols that already exist, you could write your own Christmas carol as a poem.

In writing a Christmas carol, you might consider taking into account form elements such as meter, rhyme, syllable count, alliteration, mirroring, and other ideas.  Sound in a Christmas carol is important and using these elements can help when trying to achieve the right sound.

When writing a Christmas carol as a poem, one thing that makes it different from a song, is that there is no inherent melody that is communicated to the reader.  There is no inherent way to sing the poem.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be an issue though.  First, if the poem has the right sound, it might not need a melody.  Second, a melody could be applied and communicated to the reader if a poet wanted to.  Third, readers could apply their own melody to the poem.

When writing a Christmas carol as a poem, there are a number of ideas you could use.  You could write about:

  • The Nativity story. You could write about the whole story, parts of it, or different people in it.
  •  

  • Christmas Eve. You could focus on the time right before Christmas.
  •  

  • The twelve days of Christmas. Although there is already at least one Christmas carol that focuses on this time, you could focus on it from a different perspective.
  •  

  • Christmas morning. This is a time of celebration and focus and could be written about in a carol.
  •  

  • A poem about characters that focuses on ideas like hope, joy, or redemption.
  •  

  • Christmas traditions. This could cover a number of ideas such as Christmas trees, Christmas cookies, and presents.
  •  

  • A poem focusing on the sensory elements of celebrating Christmas (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and how things feel).

Here is an example Christmas carol poem:

O’ dear friend,
do you see,
the bright and shiny,
Christmas tree?

Upon its bows,
the lights do glow,
so think of the star,
that you do know.

The canes of candy,
there hung with care,
remind of shepherds,
and how they did fare.

The little packages,
placed up so high,
are the like the gifts,
brought by Magi.

The many spheres,
that you do see,
are like the fruit,
of a special tree.

The tree itself,
should point the way,
to that one tree,
from that one day.

O’ dear friend,
do you see,
the bright and shiny,
Christmas tree?

Post series: Advent: Poem: The Christmas Stone

One year
she received
a polished stone
as gift
for Christmas.

Though
it looked nice
and was smooth
and shined
it did seem
kind of pointless.

Who would send a stone?
Why would they send it?
What was she supposed to do with it?

Not understanding
she kept it though
and put it on the mantle
beside a clock.

Time passed
and years passed
and every so often
she would dust the mantle
and clean the stone.

It still
looked nice
and was smooth
and shined
but still
it seemed
without purpose.

On a Christmas day
her sister came
and with her she brought
a small girl.

Small
and quiet
and five years old
she did not talk
and had not ever.

Carrying the girl
in her arms
she showed her the tree
the lights that glowed
and the ornaments.

She walked around
and showed her garland
and nutcrackers
and little trees.

Coming to the mantle
she showed her the clock
and the candles
and then the small stone.

The girl looked
and held the stone
in her small hand
and gazed at it
with small brown eyes.

She told the girl
it was a special stone
a Christmas stone
and that it came
from far away.

She said it was special
because it was a gift
that was meant to last
for a long time.

She said it was special
because of the time
and all it took
for the stone to be there.

She said it was special
because it was a gift
sent especially to her.

The small girl gazed
and looked at the stone
and seemed to marvel
at the colors it contained.

Then she said
that if the girl wanted
the stone could be hers
as a Christmas gift.

The girl looked up
with small brown eyes
and with a smile
she nodded her head.

She set the girl down
and she scurried to a chair
sat in a ball
and looked at the stone.

Minute after minute
and for more than an hour
she felt its surface
and looked at its colors

The woman then came
beside the girl
and said to her
that there was something else
about the stone
the girl should know.

The girl looked up
and with her eyes
asked what it was.

She told the girl
it was a story stone
and with it
amazing stories
could be told.

She said the girl
could think of the stone
like a gem in princess’s necklace.

She said it could be
a special key
that could open a secret door.

She said it could be
something from space
that fell from a star
that passed by.

She said it could be
whatever the girl wanted
and that with it
the girl could tell
so many stories.

The girl looked at the stone
as her eyes grew wide
and she scurried away
to another room.

An hour later
the girl returned
and held a paper
in her hand.

It had a cat
with a collar
with a gem that dangled
from a loop.

From the gem
yellow lines came out.

Away from the cat
was girl
who looked like the one
with the brown eyes.

The girl pointed to drawing
pointed to the girl
pointed to the cat
pointed to gem
and moved her finger
from along the yellow lines
to the girl on the paper.

Looking down
the woman thought
and then asked
if the girl
found the cat
who was lost
because the stone
shined in the sun.

The girl smiled
and nodded
and clapped her hands.

Though not a word
this was a start
and the woman thanked in her mind
whoever had sent
the Christmas stone.

She resolved in herself
to send one too
hoping it also
would bring some joy.

Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: Christmas gift ideas

Are you having a difficult time thinking of Christmas gifts to buy for the people in your life?  The following poem can help.  It provides (in poem form) eleven categories of gifts that you can use to come up with ideas.  (After the poem, the gift categories are laid out more explicitly.  That is what makes this a poem with an explanation.)

The first gift,
is really as basic,
as the food you eat.

The second gift,
like the first,
is consumed,
but in a different way.

The third gift,
is the standard,
upon the person’s flag.

The fourth gift,
should be interesting.

The fifth gift,
eventful.

The sixth gift,
should express a sentiment.

The seventh gift,
follows money.

The eight gift,
fulfills a request.

The ninth gift,
requires action.

The tenth gift,
comes from the hands.

The eleventh gift,
takes things to a new level.

 

Each stanza above expresses a gift category that you can use to think of a gift to buy a person.

The first gift category is food.  Food makes an excellent gift because everyone eats and it is easy to get something gourmet or something in a fancy package that can make something simple be more like a gift.

The second gift is that of a consumable.  A consumable is something a person uses up.  This could be anything from office supplies to things for their pet.  The idea is to buy a person something they use up on a regular basis.

The third gift is a standard gift.  A standard gift can fit a gender or a profession.  As an example, some standard gifts for men might be: ties, shoes, suits, briefcases, tools, sports items, outdoor items, shaving items, cologne, car items, and grilling items.

The fourth gift is something related to an interest a person has.  For example, if a person likes golf, some gifts might be: golf balls, golf tees, golf clothes, golf gloves, golf bags, golf lessons, and golf clubs.

The fifth gift is an event.  Rather than giving a person a thing, you can give them an experience.  This could be something like tickets to a sporting event or paying for them to take a class.

The sixth gift is something sentimental.  This could be something personalized with the person’s name, something with an image important to the person, or something from the person’s past.

The seventh gift is to buy a person something they buy themselves.  The idea here is that if a person buys something, they like it.  If you buy them something similar, they might like it too.

The eighth gift is to buy a person something they asked for.  A person might have explicitly said they wanted something, or they may have mentioned it or an idea related to it in passing.

The ninth gift is to do something for a person.  This could be something like mowing their lawn or fixing something they have that is broken.

The tenth gift is to give the person something you make.  This could be anything from cookies, to a scarf, to furniture.

The eleventh gift is to upgrade something a person has.  You can buy a person a better version of something they already own.

These categories cover just something things you could buy a person as a Christmas gift.  There are of course more.  These are just a starting point that you can use if you have trouble thinking of what to buy a person.

As a side note, if you know someone who likes poetry, you might consider buying them M. Sakran’s published collection of poetry, First Try.  It contains poems on a variety of topics.  Someone who likes poetry could enjoy it. (It would also make M. Sakran quite happy if you gave someone the collection as a gift.)

Post Series: Advent: Poetry essay: Presentation

During Advent, Christmas gifts are often wrapped.  The idea is to have a sense of surprise as well as presentation.  The idea of presentation is something that can be applied to poetry.

How a poem is presented can affect how it is received.  There are a number of aspects of this.

One aspect, is the poem title.  The same poem, with a different title, can come across differently.  A poem’s title can affect its tone and what is emphasized for the reader.

Another aspect, is the poem that preceded the poem, if there is one.  A poem can be affected by what preceded it.  The ideas and emotions of the prior poem can affect how the current poem is read.

A third aspect is the physical presentation of the poem.  Is it printed or on a screen?  What does the background look like?  What colors are used?  What fonts are used?  How is the poem laid out on the page?  If the poem is part of a printed collection, what does that look like?  These physical aspects of a poem’s presentation can affect its reception.

A fourth aspect can come into play if the poem is read aloud.  Who reads the poem, how they read it, and under what circumstances they read it, can all affect how listeners feel about and interpret a poem.

When developing a poem, a poet should take presentation into account.  Just like a gift can be impacted by the box it is in and the wrapping that is used, a poem can be affected by how it is presented.  Poets should take some time and think about presentation and develop a presentation that they feel best puts forward their work.