Friday, March 27, 2009

In Country

I long to be in country.

Not for me a pot of plants

Reaching through a slant

Of rails to stretch for sun.

I feel no city comfort,

Complain of concrete, censor

Brick and shun a windowed

Wall, a steepled church.

My gods are forest deep,

On shadowed, mossy altars

Made of peat; my prayers,

The flowing streams, the rocks

They shape, the poetry they speak.

I know my self on woodland paths;

Their lore runs in my blood,

A rustic mapping through my veins

To find my heart in woods.

35 comments:

  1. "My gods are forest deep,
    On shadowed, mossy altars
    Made of peat, my prayers,
    The flowing streams, the rocks
    They shape, the poetry they speak."

    So skillfully rendered and eloquently illustrated. I can almost smell the rich peat, and feel the yielding moss beneath my feet. I, too, am defined by the woods. You and I, wood nymphs - even now. I love this poem very much.

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  2. I've been longing to take a break and just go into the wild for some time.

    So wonderfully written Karen. (as always :P)

    God gave us the whole sky to live under, but we have made ourselves comfortable with only the sky that we see through our windows.

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  3. Just beautiful, Karen.

    "I know my self on woodland paths"

    It's such a profound statement. And I say this as one who finds more comfort in a big city than the country (hangs head in shame). I think maybe the commotion of the city can be a distraction, in some ways a way not to have to know one's self.

    I really enjoyed this, which is absolutely no surprise!

    And, I have to say, much as it pains me, that I found Aniket's comment really profound as well. ;)

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  4. K - I thought you might identify with this. Nature is such a part of us! Even though I live in nature, I get so wrapped up in the world and obligations that I long for something that's right outside my door. I must remedy that. My soul is hungry for it.

    Aniket - Thank you. Jennfer is right - your statement is profound! I'm happy this poem inspired you to think of that profound statement!

    Roberta - At least, I think, Walt would appreciate the sentiment. Thank you.

    Jennifer - There's nothing wrong with loving the city and finding your comfort there. The bustle can be invigorating, but to find my SELF, I need the feel of the earth under my feet. I grew up roaming the fields and hills, and sometimes I think I left me there.

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  5. "My gods are forest deep,
    On shadowed, mossy altars
    Made of peat, my prayers,
    The flowing streams, the rocks
    They shape, the poetry they speak."

    These are my gods, too; my prayers. I wholeheartedly share the sentiment. Beautifully done!

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  6. I completely identify. I grew up in the Northwest - mostly meandering through the back woods of the Oregon Coastal forests or within the rolling hills of the Valley. Even though I don't live there now, a longing remains. I love the imagery created in these lines: "my prayers/ the flowing streams, the rocks/ they shape, the poetry they speak."

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  7. "My gods are forest deep," great poem....brings picture in front of you...nice nice..love it ..love it...underline..again..again
    -narendra

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  8. Jennifer, I know you must have bit your lips saying this.

    Karen, you are all inspiration! :-)

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  9. Marty - Welcome back! I think the title of this probably means something different than you anticipated, but I hope you weren't disappointed. I'm glad you found it to your liking, anyway. Thanks for visiting.

    Bluesugarpoet - I wonder if your trail running isn't an excuse to get back into nature? I haven't been to Oregon, but I'm certain it must be beautiful. I'm glad this one spoke to you.

    frozenwell - Welcome! Thank you for your kind comment, and thanks for visiting here.

    Aniket - You and Jennifer!! You're too funny! Thanks for the compliment, though ;)

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  10. Karen, The lines about the forest gods really are lovely but I think I appreciate them the more because of the contrast provided by "I feel no city comfort,Complain of concrete, censor Brick and shun a windowed Wall, a steepled church." I like the way the almost stacccato pace of the first half gives way to the flowing lines and imagery of the second - one comma in the first, for example, and six in the second - and I like the use of half rhymes, internal rhymes and alliteration. Full rhyme sometimes feel artificial now but the devices you're using always come, on me at least, as a reminder of the fun to be had with language. But tell me, do you really have bluebell woods in West Virginia? I have had virginia bluebells in my garden but didn't think they grew in woodland the way they do in Britain.

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  11. Karen, your beautiful poem had me doing a lot of thinking this weekend (at Walden Pond of all places ;) ) and I will likely post about it. I wanted to ask your permission before I linked to your poem as inspirtation for the train of thought. Please feel free to say no-I would totally understand! :)

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  12. Hi Karen:-)
    I love this poem.
    "I know my self on woodland paths"
    How true this line is for me too.

    Thanks for the recent comment on my blog. I seem to be taking a longer break than I thought. I am still wandering around blogland and reading, so I am not really too far away:)

    Thinking of you,
    Faith

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  13. I think we expand in natural settings, where we have the peace to forget our social interactions and remember who we really are.

    This poem is deep and lovely, Karen. Your altar, prayers, and poetry feel like eternal things, and the heart stretches in reply.

    I want to take a wandering walk through the woods now myself. Maybe I'll see you there. ;)

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  14. Mairi - Thanks for noticing the language and syntax of this. The rush of the city gives way to the peace of the woods, and I can breathe again.

    As to the picture, you've caught me out! I forgot you were a detective! This is, indeed, a bluebell wood in England. Here's the evolution of this photo choice: One draft of the poem named Eden "to find my heart in Eden," but as we know, "...Eden sank to grief," so I didn't want that connotation. I substituted Arden (see where I'm going with this?), but decided I didn't want to overtly reference Shakespeare. Next I tried, "to find my heart in wildwood," then "green wood" then "bluebell wood." Finally, I settled on "woods," but I'm still ruminating over that decision. I feel as if I need another syllable there. Anyway, to make this very long story shorter, I found a picture of an English bluebell wood and used that picture. The weather here hasn't been conducive yet to walking the paths, and as I spent one summer studying in England I have never left that beauty behind me.

    That's probably more than you bargained for. :-)

    Jennifer - Oh! You were at Walden?! I'm so jealous!! Of course you may link to me, and I'm really happy to know that you were able to "go into the woods" again.

    Faith - Thank you for your comments, but more importantly, I'm happy to know you're still there. :-)

    Sarah - Your comment makes me think of Frost -- "The woods are lovely, dark and deep." Maybe the promises we need to keep are to ourselves, just to enjoy them. Thank you for your comments. You always make me think.

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  15. Karen, you're doing beautiful work here! As always! This one hits at my heart, because I think the forest is the only place that I feel truly at home, truly at ease, and truly myself. These lines are wonderful:

    "On shadowed, mossy altars
    Made of peat; my prayers,
    The flowing streams, the rocks
    They shape, the poetry they speak.
    I know my self on woodland paths;"

    Mossy altars made of peat! I wish I had written that!!

    I have always loved your work, but I'm extra excited to see this one. The lines are lyrical, beautiful, and resonate with music.

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  16. Karen-I'm sorry I got here so late. There is nothing said above that I wouldn't agree with, this is a gorgeous poem. And I couldn't agree more with the message. Funny, just a couple of weeks ago I was hearing on the news about how walking in nature is really good for our memories and our brains and relieves stress, where as walking in cities has the opposite effect.

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  17. BTW: Karen, I have a technical question to ask you, can you email me at cat@catvibe.com please?

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  18. Oh, Karen, I love this poem! ...I am very much a country girl and I can relate to this so much!

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  19. Julie - Thank you so for your kind words. I've been surprised by how many people have connected with this love of the natural world. I wonder how many go through their lives without experiencing nature -- the woods. Think how we'd be different if we'd never had that. I can't imagine "me" without that wild running woodland freedom of my youth.

    Jennifer - :-) My pleasure.

    Cat - Nature's call to us is, I think, primal, and we hear it resonating down the eons. Thanks be that we still have some left to enjoy. I can't wait to get OUTSIDE after this winter!

    Calli - Thank you, dear friend. "Thank God, I'm a country girl!" to misquote John Denver!

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  20. I also hear that call. I understand the power it holds for you.

    On a technical note, I really like how the poem breaks convention. The phrases in some lines went past line breaks, and the rhyme was internal, so it came with little surpises. Very nicely done. :)

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  21. Jason - In looking back at some of your old work, I see that you went into the woods yourself and built a retreat. How wonderful to be able to do that work yourself - the satisfaction you must have from knowing that you created that. You are a man of many talents, my friend!

    Thanks for the comments on style. I haven't seemed to find one voice that is mine. Maybe that's a good thing, as I think I'm evolving as a writer. (Hopefully, this evolution will see me fitter as a poet). I appreciate your feedback.

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  22. Woo hoo! This one is brilliant. Like many who have cited these lines:
    "My gods are forest deep,
    On shadowed, mossy altars etc.

    You have really tapped into something beautiful and lasting here. This is one of your best, without question.

    Kat

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  23. I didn't really finish that sentence, did I?

    Like many who have cited...I too find them moving and lovely.

    Kat

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  24. "My gods are forest deep / On shadowed, mossy altars / Made of peat" is thoreau-esque to the point that if you told me he wrote it, i'd beleive you.
    and i too think the mechanics are fantastic and seamless - there is a very natural music in it.
    poems like this make me wish i was raised in (or at least near) the woods - i feel the awe and splendor of them, but i'm never quite at home there.

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  25. Kat - Thanks so much. This is one of those poems that truly just came. The few that I've thought are my best have done that.

    joaquin - Your Thoreau comment blows me away. I even came back to read it a second time. That is the highest compliment I could have received about this poem. Thank you. I can't imagine not having spent time in the woods, but that's because this was my childhood playground. Thank you for your kind, kind comments.

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  26. Karen, thanks for following me all around town, but I'm going back to the old blog. (Seriously.:) ) Something someone said. It was too much to give up.

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  27. Oh, Karen, I love this poem!
    I can feel these gods of the forest...

    Their lore runs in my blood,
    A rustic mapping through my veins
    To find my heart in woods.


    Beautiful...

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  29. Thank you, Vesper. Your comments are always so positive and encouraging. They mean a great deal to me.

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  30. I love to get into the Troodos Mountains and the Cyprus woods. I miss the woody smells of the UK.
    Lovely words, thanks for sharing.

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  31. Thanks for visiting, Glynis!

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