Poem with an explanation: on the island

Twenty days
on the island
since the boat
ran aground.

Coconuts
bananas
shellfish
roots

Water
in puddles
carried around
by buckets.

On a stone
the days are marked
and some semblance of time
is kept.

No boats.
No planes.
A message in the sand.

A routine.
The little things.
Counting.
Planning.

Running on the beach.
Swimming in the cove.
Never too far,
from hut or shore.

Evenings seem long.
What time to wake up?
Days blend.
Marking the stone.

One day
a boat will come by.

 

This poem is about a person staying home during the coronavirus situation.  The person isn’t ill, but is staying home so they won’t get ill nor infect others.  The idea is expressed by describing a person’s situation on a deserted island.

In the first stanza, it is noted that the person has been at home for twenty days.  They started staying home before they were officially told to and have continued to stay home.  They haven’t gone to the store or anywhere since before the first day.

In the second stanza, the person’s food is noted.  It is limited to what they have on the island, which is symbolic of the limitation of what they have in the house.

In the third stanza, the difficulty of basic necessities is noted.  In the poem, the person struggles to find and use water.  In the person’s house they struggle to find and use supplies as they don’t leave.

In the fourth stanza, the person records the days they have been in isolation.  Although there isn’t a real point to noting the number, the person wants to keep a sense of time.

In the fifth stanza, the person is waiting for the situation to end.  In the poem they want to be rescued.  In the reality of the poem, the person wants the virus to end.

In the sixth stanza, the person tries to form a routine.  They note the little things they do.  They count things they have and they plan for how they will use things.

In the seventh stanza, the person tries to get exercise.  They do this though without leaving their area.  In the reality of the poem, the person does not leave their property.

In the eighth stanza, the person notes that evenings are long.  This is because they are alone and can’t go anywhere.  They also note a sense that time has lost some value as they are home all the time.  They question what time they should wake up.  They note the days are blending, but they still mark them to keep track.

In the ninth stanza, hope is expressed that the situation will end.  In the poem, a boat will come by.  In the reality of the poem, the virus will end.

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?

Poetry essay: Using metaphor and symbolism in poetry

Metaphor and symbolism can be very important parts of poetry.  The idea of talking about something without directly saying it can be a very effective tool for expression.  If you read through some of the poems with explanations on this blog, you can see examples of the use of metaphor and symbolism.

The idea of the clarity and obscurity of expressing ideas through poetry, which relates to the idea of using metaphor and symbolism, was written about in a previous poetry essay on this blog: Clear vs. mixed clear and obscure vs. obscure poetry.

Metaphor and symbolism can be ways to add depth to whatever a poet is writing about.  If the subject matter is light, metaphor and symbolism can make it seem deeper than it is.  If the subject matter is significant, metaphor and symbolism can be a vehicle for expression that lessens the directness but makes the idea more subtly impactful.

Look at this poem:

his life did wane,
beneath the sun,
and in bright days,
no one did mourn

This poem sounds significant.  It seems to be about someone dying and not being mourned.  The poem has a sound of depth to it.

In reality, this poem is about something light: the melting of a snowman.  The poem was written in a way so as to make something little sound like something more.

Writing a poem in this way can have different affects.

On the one hand, it might appear to some to be silly.  A poet writing with depth about something so small.

On the other hand, some might view this poem as a way to express an idea.  The death of the snowman is symbolic.  It is speaking of some larger or more important idea.  For example, imagine if someone saw a snowman melt and it reminded them of the death of someone they knew.  With this view, the symbolism fits the situation.

One caution to writing a poem in this way, is that if a reader learns the true meaning of the poem, they might feel deceived.  Think about a song that you liked and thought was significant, until you learned it was about something small and light.

Here is another poem:

Snowmen,
twenty in a row,
a memory

The arc of time,
moved with pace,
so few are left

The spring will come,
the day will come,
when the field has flowers,
but no snowmen.

This poem is a little like a mirror of the first.  This poem is explicitly about snowmen.  It is basically talking about them disappearing through the winter.  There is a sadness to the poem, even though it is overtly about something light.

This poem though has more depth.  It is really about soldiers from a war many years before.  You may have seen a picture of soldiers of a past war lined up for a photograph.  Imagine it has been fifty years since the picture was taken.  Many of those soldiers would have died.  At some point, all will be gone.  That is the real meaning of the poem.

This poem uses metaphor and symbolism to express something significant, in a way that stills feels significant, but is less direct.  The poem still has emotion, but it might not hit as hard as if the poem had been overt.  Given that though, the poem might seem more reflective and more able to stimulate a sense of thought than a more direct poem might.  The poem is more subtly impactful.

 

Metaphor and symbolism are important for poetry.  They allow a poet a means to express ideas without just saying them.  They can impart meaning to things that are mundane and add subtly to things that are significant.

 

P. S. Happy fourth day of Christmas.

A photograph to inspire poetry: a fly on a dead banana leaf

a fly on a dead banana leaf

This photograph is of a fly on a dead banana leaf.  It is a fairly up close and detailed shot.  One type of poetic inspiration that could come from this photograph, would be a poem that uses the fly and dead banana leaf as metaphorical symbols for something.  For example, imagine a person moving from a house that burned down.  The person could be represented by the fly and the house could be represented by the dead banana leaf in a poem.  He’s an example:

It was strange,
the sound in the wind,
as it blew through the brown,
and it all seemed to rattle.

Pausing there,
standing upon it,
for the last moment,
before this was memory.

What once was alive,
and seemed to grow each day,
was now a shell,
that was empty and thin.

Living there,
staying there,
understanding there,
as wings now twitched.

The wind blew,
the fly would do as it would,
and there upon stalks,
the banana leaves would flutter.

Post Series: Poems with Explanations: Falling

To the edge,
to the edge,
back away,
back away.

In a moment,
with a force,
ropes are cut,
and wind flows.

The steps are heard,
the gazelle runs,
and with a bound,

                                                  there’s the sea.

Falling down,
first a rush,
then the thought,
then the hush,
the rocks below,
the sea does flow,
the wind does blow,
and eyes do close.

A time so long,
a time so short,
the fog comes in,
and thoughts flow out.

In the distance,
 a light does shine,

 a flash of hope,
  or a storm to come?

The eyes open,
the sea is far,
a glance is made,
but what is sought?

A bird coasts down,
escaping foggy gales,
hovering,
it just keeps low,
making no outcry,
pausing quietly,
remaining still,
truthfully understanding.

The bird does wait for eyes,
to say the word it seeks,
and then it will so sound,
the song it knows to play.

The word is said,
timid eyes see.

 

This poem is about a man asking a woman out on a date via a text message.  The man and woman have known each other for some period of time (months) and the man is finally ready to ask her out.  The symbolism in the poem is of a man jumping off a cliff to dive into the sea.  That is him, “taking the plunge”, so to speak, and asking the woman out.

In the first stanza, the man is holding his phone.  He wants to send the text message but is afraid.  He almost types it, but then stops.  He repeats this twice.  This is symbolized in the poem by the man walking to the edge of a cliff that is above the sea.  His intention is to dive into the water, but he has trepidation.  He walks to the edge, but then moves back.

In the second stanza, the man makes the decision to type the message.  Symbolically, it is like the man was away from the cliff’s edge, tangled in ropes.  He decides, in a moment of decision to cut the ropes and run toward the cliff’s edge.  His hope is that he will be moving so fast and with such determination that he will not have time to think about it and be afraid.

In the third stanza, the man runs and pushes off and jumps from the cliff.  In the fourth stanza (considering each section after a line break to be a stanza) the man is over the cliff.  He looks down and sees the sea.  This symbolizes the man sending the text message.

In the fifth stanza, the man is experiencing a sense of many emotions after the text message has been sent.  This is symbolized by the man falling from the cliff.

At first, the man feels a sense of excitement after he sends the message (first a rush).  In the poem, this is the rush of first falling from the cliff.

Then he worries that the woman will say no to his request (then the thought).  In the poem, this is a moment of rethinking the decision to jump from the cliff, after the jump has happened.

The man becomes speechless (then the hush).  This same silence is symbolized as the man is falling.

The man contemplates the woman saying no (the rocks below) and the woman saying yes (the sea does flow).

He realizes that things are out of his control (the wind does blow – In other words the wind will blow the man and that will determine if he will land on the rocks or the water.  This symbolizes the idea that the woman will respond however she wants.)  He finally decides to just not think and just to go with what happens (and eyes do close).

In the sixth stanza, the man is waiting for a response.  He feels the time is long (A time so long), but also realizes that it is actually going to be relatively short (a time so short).  Symbolically, this idea is reflected in how time feels as the man falls from the cliff.

Also in the sixth stanza, the man feels a range of thoughts as he waits.  This is symbolized by fog coming in as the man falls.

In the seventh stanza, the man sees a response on his phone.  He does not know what it says, but he knows it is there.  This is symbolized in the poem as the man seeing a light in the distance as he falls.

In the eighth stanza, the man wonders if the reply is good (a flash of hope) or bad (a storm to come).  This is symbolized as the man wondering if the light he sees while falling is something good or lightening from a storm.

In the ninth stanza, the man opens the message, but looks away.  He is scared about what it might say.  He is in some way expecting that it will be negative.  He is bracing himself.  Symbolically, this is the man glancing toward the light that is far off.  The idea that he hopes for a positive response, but expects a negative one, is shown by the question, but what it sought?.

In the tenth stanza, the man is still contemplating the message.  It is there, on his phone, in front of him, but he has not read it.  The message, in the poem, is symbolically carried by a bird.  The scene is that the man is somehow floating in midair beside the cliff and the bird flies up to him carrying the message.

In the eleventh stanza, the message is sitting on the phone, unread.  The man is still finding the courage to read it.  In the poem, symbolically, the bird is waiting to sing a song that is the message.

In the last stanza, the man reads the message and finds out if the woman will go out on a date with him.  Whether she says yes or no, isn’t said in the poem.  In the poem, symbolically, the man indicates to the bird that he wants to know the message.

One interesting point about the poem, is that although the man dived off the cliff, he never actually makes it to the water.  By the end of the poem he is suspended in the air.  Once the man finds out the result of the message, he will finish going down by the cliff.

This poem has quite a few form elements.  Including form elements was one of the considerations in writing the poem.

In the first stanza, there are repeats.  Lines one and two are repeats and lines three and four are repeats.

In the second stanza, each of the lines has three words.

The fourth stanza is indented fifty spaces.

In the fifth stanza, lines two and four rhyme.  Lines five, six, and seven also rhyme.

In the sixth stanza, lines one and two end in antonyms (long/short) as do lines three and four (in/out).  Also, lines one and two both start with a time so.

In the seventh and eighth stanzas, indentions are used.

In the ninth stanza, each line has four syllables.

The tenth stanza has words that start with progressive letters of the alphabet (For example, A bird coasts down, is a b c d).  It goes through the letters a – u.

The eleventh stanza is written in iambic trimeter.

All of the stanzas are separated by line breaks.

*****

Do you like poems with explanations?

M. Sakran’s self-published book of poems with explanations called Understanding: poems with explanations is available for purchase as an eBook for an available price of $0.99. Buy your copy today!

To help celebrate the self-publication of this book, there is a post series of poems with explanations on the blog.  Above is a poem with an explanation for the series.  This poem with an explanation (as well as the rest in the series) is not from the book.  It is a different one that is part of this post series for readers to read and enjoy.

Post Series: Poems with Explanations: There

There

Sitting there,
as a storm falls,
feeling it all hit.

Laying there,
in the incoherence,
but 4 and 2 aren’t 7.

Covered there,
as the earth shakes,
hoping snow falls.

Walking there,
with a stumble,
it is miles.

Listening there,
hearing the calls,
mist and stone.

Being there,
in disguise,
wondering of return.

 

This poem is about a person with a cold with a fever.  The poem is divided into six stanzas, that cover six moments the person has.

The first stanza starts with the person in the shower.  The person is sick, and so, rather than stand in the shower, as would be normal, the person sits (Sitting there).  They sit on the shower floor, as the hot water falls upon them (as a storm falls) and they take some bit of comfort in the heat (feeling it all hit).

In the next stanza, the person is in bed (Laying there).  It is in the middle of the night and the person has a fever.  They wake up.  Because of their tiredness and their fever they are incoherent (in the incoherence).  Their mind starts to move as they are half awake and half asleep and they can’t make sense of what they are thinking about (but 4 and 2 aren’t 7).

In the third stanza, the person is sitting on a sofa, covered completely with a blanket (Covered there).  The person starts to feel cold and they shiver (as the earth shakes).  As they do, they hope someone helps them and covers them with more blankets (hoping snow falls).

In the fourth stanza, the person is walking outside to get the mail (Walking there).  Because of their cold, they stumble as they walk (with a stumble).  At first they have some thought that the feet they are walking feels like miles, but as they stumble along, they decide that it is in fact miles (it is miles).  The distance they feel, has transcended in some sense, the idea of feeling.

In the following stanza, the person is sitting inside, and they hear their dog outside bark (Listening there).  They realize that their dog wants to go for a walk (hearing the calls).  In their mind, they want to walk their dog (mist).  Their body though is just too tired (stone).

In the last stanza, the person is in their house (Being there).  They don’t look like themselves.  Because of their cold they are dressed differently and just look different (in disguise).  As they are there, they wonder when they will be well again and be themselves (wondering of return).

In terms of form, this poem is six stanzas long.  Each stanza is three lines long.  Each stanza starts with a word followed by there.  This makes each first line of each stanza, two words long.

*****

Do you like poems with explanations?

M. Sakran’s self-published book of poems with explanations called Understanding: poems with explanations is available for purchase as an eBook for an available price of $0.99. Buy your copy today!

To help celebrate the self-publication of this book, there is a post series of poems with explanations on the blog.  Above is a poem with an explanation for the series.  This poem with an explanation (as well as the rest in the series) is not from the book.  It is a different one that is part of this post series for readers to read and enjoy.

Poem with an explanation: The clock strikes

The clock strikes

the clock strikes:

 eleven twenty eight,

  snowflakes fall,
  robins land,
  fir needles sprout,

 twelve o’ six,

  drifts pile,
  a flock gathers,
  branches fill,

 twelve twenty five,

  a sea of snow,
  the trees are filled,
  branches intertwine,

 twelve thirty one,

  a flurry in the sky,
  robins fly,
  shapes against the stars,

 one o’ one,

  footsteps in the snow,
  robins in a v,
  trees in a line,

 one twelve,

  the snow melts,
  robins fly away,
  needles fall off

 

This poem is about the progression of time through the holidays.  As the holidays have just ended, this topic seemed appropriate.

The first time is eleven twenty eight.  Here it represents the Friday after Thanksgiving, which this past year occurred on November twenty eighth.  This is the first time when Christmas decorations come out (at least in the poem).  The decorations are represented by the three things that appear in the poem (although these three things will represent other things later in the poem): snowflakes (white), robins (red), and fir needles (green).  The things were chosen to represent colors associated with Christmas.  The colors though, are not specifically mentioned in the poem.  Their appearance symbolizes the appearance of Christmas decorations.  These three things repeat at each of the times in the same order.

Twelve o’ six is the second time.  This time represents December sixth, Saint Nicholas Day.  The three things at this time that arrived at eleven twenty eight are now growing.  This is meant to represent the increase in Christmas decorations that occurs generally in early December, although Saint Nicholas Day was chosen as the specific day for the poem.

The third time is twelve twenty five.  This time represents Christmas Day.  At this time, all the three things in the poem (snow, robins, and fir needles) are in abundance, just like Christmas decorations on this date.

The fourth time is twelve thirty one.  This time represents New Year’s Eve.  At this time, the consistency of snow, robins and fir needles are maintained, but instead of representing Christmas decorations, here they represent fireworks.

One o’ one is the sixth time.  This time represents New Year’s Day.  Here, instead of the snow, robins and trees representing Christmas decorations or fireworks, they represent parades.

The last time is one twelve.  This time represents the date of this post. It is a date after the holidays have ended.  At this time, the three things have gone back to representing Christmas decorations.  What happens at this time symbolizes the decorations being put away.

Poem with an explanation: The Specter Looms

The Specter Looms

The specter looms in silence still,
and does not waver in his will,
he stands above with silent gaze,
above the land that’s like a maze,
and there he stands upon his hill.

The sound he makes is not and nil,
yet those that hide across the rill,
do fear his form which he does raise,
the specter looms.

They wish to move across the sill,
and enter where the gold does fill,
yet as if the land does hide in haze,
they stand afar still in a daze,
as if they swallowed fear in a pill,
the specter looms.

The above poem is a rondeau.  At first glance, the poem is meant to sound a bit frightening: the idea of a specter looming and some group fearing this specter.  However, in reality, the poem is about something simpler: a scarecrow.

The specter in the poem is the scarecrow.  The group are the crows.  The poem describes the scarecrow in the field and the crows being afraid to go there.  The idea was to present a simple idea, in a way that hid the actual meaning, and made it sound as if something more significant was being described.

Poem with an explanation: The Lake

The Lake

The water flowed with speed,
down from the waterfall,
and down into the lake.

But then as if with need,
the lava did not stall,
but caused the lake to quake.

The lake did then recede,
as clouds of steam grew tall,
as it did heat and shake.

 

The poem above utilizes the first experimental poetry form that was posted to M. Sakran’s blog of and about poetry and poetry related things.  It was posted on April 26, 2014.  The experimental poetry form was entitled Three and can be seen here: Three.

The poem above is symbolic of the process of boiling water.  The symbolism is through the metaphor of a lake filling, then being heated by lava, then having water in the lake turn to steam.  It follows the process of a pot filling with water, then the pot heating, and then the water boiling.