Poem with an explanation: springtime is coming

the treeless branch droops
from the burden of the snow
springtime is coming

 

This poem is about hope.  The poem is a 5-7-5 haiku, and uses nature as a metaphor for a human situation.

In the poem, there is a treeless branch.  This represents a person who has been through a lot.  They have lost their energy.  They have lost their hope.

In addition, the branch droops.  This represents something additional on the person.  The person is pressed down in some way.  What they have been through has pushed them down.

In the poem, the branch is drooping from the burden of the snow.  The snow is what is weighing on the person.  It is the stress, anxiety, problems, and situations the person feels and is going through.  It is a burden to them.  It is what is pressing them down after they have already lost their leaves.

The next line of the poem represents hope.  It says that springtime is coming.  This means the snow will melt and the tree will grow new leaves.  This represents the problems leaving the person and the person becoming revitalized.  It represents a positive future.

In the poem, something that has been through a lot with something weighing it down, will at some point be relieved of what it is going through.  This represents the same idea for a person.

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Poetry essay: Three ways to look at poetry: what it says, what it means, and what it sounds like

There are a lot of ways to look at poetry, but three ways that a person can think about when trying to decide what they think of a poem are:

what it says,

what it means,

and what it sounds like.

 

What is says

Looking at what a poem says means looking at a poem literally.  It means looking at what it actually says and taking that at face value, without looking for underlying meanings or symbolism, and without looking deeper.  It is a “what you see, is what you get” way of seeing things.

The idea here is to examine the literal expression of the poem.  As an example, look at the following poem:

And there upon the snow did shine,
the light of night when stars did climb,
as wind did blow through trees of pine,
as stars did mark the night’s own time.

In this poem, literally, there is a nighttime winter scene.  There is snow on the ground and light from the stars is shining on it.  There is wind in the pine trees and time is passing.

Looking at what a poem says, a reader would take this scene literally.  They would try to decide what they thought of the scene the poem creates.

What it means

Looking at what a poem means, means looking at the symbolism and metaphor in a poem, or looking deeper within it.  It means trying to figure out the actual intent of a poem, which may differ from the literal expression.

Again, a person can examine the poem above.  There are different ways to interpret it.

If a reader went the literal route, and thought the poem meant what it said, they would see a winter scene.  They would understand that the poem takes place in a place where there is snow.  They would also know that the night was clear because the light and stars could be seen.  They would know that it was windy.  Additionally, they would understand that the poem was in a place where there were pine trees.  They would also understand the passage of time.

Looking at the poem this way, the reader would get a definite sense of place in the poem.  They would be seeing a certain place that differs from others.

If a person thought this way, they would be seeing the poem literally, but would be looking deeper within it.  They could go a step further and see more meaning in the words.

For example, a reader might think that because the stars could be seen, that there was not much light pollution in the scene in the poem.  A reader might see this as an indication that part of the intent of the poem was to say light pollution was a negative thing.

A reader could do this same thing with other ideas presented in the poem.  By doing so, a reader might interpret a message in the literal words of the poem.

In addition to thinking about what the poem meant literally, a reader might also look for symbolism in the poem.  They might see the poem as a metaphor for something else.

One interpretation might be to see this poem as a metaphor for surgery (that was not its original intent, just one interpretation).

In this interpretation, a person is having surgery.  They are covered with a white sheet before it begins (the snow).  They are in room with lights above (And there upon the snow did shine, the light).  The lights are lifted above them (when stars did climb).  The surgery is seen as an ominous thing, and so the light is “the light of night”.

The wind blowing through trees of pine is the ventilation system in the surgery room.  The person is still conscious and can hear the air moving through the medical equipment (trees of pine).

The surgery is seen as ominous by the person having it.  The lights in the room are there for the duration of the surgery.  The lights mark the surgery’s time, rather than the person’s (as stars did mark the night’s own time).

If a reader thought of this interpretation of the poem, they could examine what they thought about it and decide how they felt about the poem.

What it sounds like

The poem used here was written with a specific form.  It is one stanza.  Each line is written in iambic tetrameter.  Lines one and three rhyme and lines two and four rhyme.  A reader of the poem should be able to sense the form, even if they did not know what it was.

Additionally, the poem was written with an attempt to sound poetic.  The idea of light, night, and stars were all used to make the poem sound poetic.

A reader reading the poem, might look at it just from the perspective of what it sounded like.  They might ignore the literal words as well as any potential symbolism and just listen to how it sounds.  In this case, the poem has flow and rhyme with a poetic sound.

The three different views

When a person tries to decide what they think of a poem, they can look at it from one or more of the perspectives above.  This raises some ideas.

First, there might the question of which view was the best.  Should the quality of a poem be evaluated based on its literal words, its meaning, or its sound?  Different people will have different perspectives.

Second, there is the idea of combining the different views.  A person could look at a poem’s meaning and sound together for example.  This would give a different view than if they were looked at separately.

Third, is the question of what happens if a reader likes one of the views but not another one.  For example, what if a reader liked the way this poem sounded, but didn’t like any of the interpretations of its meaning.  Could a person still like a poem if they didn’t like what it meant?  Could a poem be liked only for its sound or literal words?

 

When a reader thinks about what they think of a poem, there are different ways they can see it.  If a reader considers these ways, and tries to look at a poem from each of them, they can gain a better appreciation for a poem and for their own perspective on it.

Artwork to inspire poetry: Elephant ear plant with snow

Elephant ear plant with snow

Above is an artwork of an elephant ear plant with snow.  It can inspire poetry.  Here are some ideas:

  • The elephant ear plant is weighed down with snow. A poet could write about a person weighed down with something in life.
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  • A real elephant ear plant would be damaged by the snow and cold. The top part of the plant would die in some cases.  Despite this though, the plant would grow back when temperatures rose.  A poet could use this idea symbolically for situations in life.
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  • An elephant ear plant wouldn’t normally have snow on it. A poet could write about a person in an out of the ordinary situation.

A photograph to inspire poetry: lemon with snow

lemon with snow

Above is a photograph of a lemon with snow on it.  There are a number of poetry ideas that can come from this photograph.  Some include:

  • The photograph shows a contrast – there is a bright tasting fruit with cold snow. This idea could be applied to poetry.  A poet might write a poem about two people, one who behaves brightly, and one who behaves coldly.
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  • There is the question of whether the snow will damage the fruit or the tree. The idea of unknown possible damage could be used in poetry.  A poet could think of many situations where there is a sense of uncertainty about potential negative consequences.
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  • Some might look at this photograph and see hope. Despite the snow, there is the fruit.  A poet could apply this idea of hope to different ideas.
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  • Some might look at this photograph and see despair. They might think it inevitable that the snow will damage the tree and fruit.  This idea of despair could be applied to different ideas for poetry.

Poem with an explanation: Disappearing

A field of snow,
bright with light,
with crows landing,
upon it.

A flash of light,
thunder,
and quiet:

 a field of black,
 that glows.

The ocean comes,
and sand flows away,
and castles disappear.

 

This poem is one that uses metaphor and symbolism.  The actual idea of the poem, is that someone is sitting at a computer and working on some type of document, when the power goes out, and they lose their work.  The poem takes something simple, and tries to make it sound more profound.

The first stanza, describes the computer screen with words on it.  The field of snow bright with light is the screen with the white background.  The crows are the black text.

The second stanza is literal and metaphorical.  The flash of light and thunder, are literal, because the power outage in the poem, was caused by a storm.  They are also metaphorical, because in addition to describing the storm outside, they describe the flash on the computer screen and the electrical noise the computer makes as it suddenly shuts off.  The computer being off is described by the quiet.

The third stanza is vague in the poem, and has a contrasting image of a field of black and glowing.  The literal idea is that it is the computer screen being black but there is electrical energy at least apparent in it.  It seems to the one watching to either be residual from when it was on, or from static.

The last stanza goes to a new metaphor.  The ocean coming describes a force.  In this case, it is what caused the power outage.  The sand flowing away is a metaphor for the time spent working being lost, because the work is lost.  The castles disappearing, uses the metaphor of sand castles on a beach being taken away by the ocean, to further describe the work being taken away by the power outage.

Post Series: The Orange Series: Poem with an explanation: The orange wing

The orange wing

The lake is deep and filled up high,
with liquid that does slowly flow,
and makes small waves as wind does blow,
and seems to hold onto the shore,
as it does move without a strain.
The liquid is so bright and thick,
and seems as if the sun was put,
within the lake as it did set,
as if it did so fill the lake,
and turn the blue to orange light.
Above the lake a bird does fly,
and tips its shape as it does sail,
through the clear air and toward the plane,
of the bright lake that is below.
And as it sails its wing does dip,
into the lake that is below,
and with a peace it lifts the light,
onto its wing as it does sail,
and flies into the light blue sky.
The orange wing does move about,
upon an arc that’s in the air,
and then above the soft white snow,
it sails again as it does dip.
And when the wing does touch the snow,
the orange light does fill it all,
and makes the snow glow in the day.

 

This is a metaphorical poem based on imagery.  It is written in iambic tetrameter, with no intentional rhyming.  The metaphor is based upon an inkwell filled with orange paint, that an artist dips a brush into and then paints on a canvas.  The lake represents the inkwell, the liquid in the lake represents the paint, the bird’s wing represents the brush, and the snow represents the canvas.

Poem series: Weather: Number Two

The crystals fall upon the ground
and cover it without a sound,
and each are clear when seen alone,
but groups of them have whiteness shown,
and the crystals they form the snow,
that all on sight do clearly know,
and men of snow do stand outside,
where leafless trees do now reside,
and hills of snow do cover lawns,
and dens of small fur covered fawns,
and the white snow does last for weeks,
as ice does form on flowing creeks,
and the crystals that fell this year,
in some short months will disappear.