Friday, August 21, 2009

ivy vines

Long tendrils pry into the cracks

Between the stones to plant their flags

In conquered ground,

So every year about this time,

I war against the ivy vines

I planted here.

And as I pull the clinging green

Encroachment from the wall, I think

Of good intent

That goes astray and trespass

That overtakes the peace and

Vanquishes the heart.


  1. Good images but particularly liked the rhythm of the stanzas

  2. Beautifully said: loved the details & the under-statement.

  3. Oh, this is lovely, Karen. You know, I think you're right, we are sisters!

    ...Love the Rossetti painting. One of my favourite's.

    beautiful post~

  4. austere and beautiful.


    bonus fro pre-R

  5. The Ivy In My Life

    The English ivy
    climbs so slowly that I lose
    sight of it's intent
    until that one day
    when I freak out completely
    and begin frantic
    remedial work
    pulling it back down, hearing
    its highly pitched shrieks.

  6. The poem and the picture were a perfect match for each other, complimented one another excellently.

  7. I love the connection you made here Karen between the wild-growing ivy and good intent going astray. There's definitely a similarity between the two.

    The picture is beautiful and as Dave said compliments your poem excellently.

  8. Gordon - I appreciate the feedback on the rhythm. I had originally written this differently but revised specifically to change the rhythm and line breaks.

    John - Thanks. You know, I never know if something works. Sometimes I really like something because of the way I felt as I wrote it, when in reality, the poem itself may be less than satisfactory.

    Calli - Thanks, Sis! I fell for Rossetti as a student and have never gotten over him!

    Gerry - Thanks! Love the strength of those Pre-Raphaelite women!

    Christopher - Thanks for the morning gift!

    Dave - Thank you. The poem came first, but I photos of the ivy just didn't have the same feel.

  9. Margaret - I find often that things seem to take on a life of their own - and that can be good or bad.

    (I'm reminded that Shakespeare said - paraphrasal here - that nothing's ever good nor bad but thinking makes it so. I'm afraid I have to disagree with the Bard on that one.)

  10. Instinct - Intent - Invasive, each seeking its discipline - domain - dominance, the fine line between allowable limits, the fine line between acceptance and rejection, the fine line between receiving and giving. You have so beautifully captured this search for balance, the call for appropriate proportion, equitable distribution, as so deemed by our our perceptions, our own desires, our momentary need. When does helping become hinderance, care become consuming, love become lecherous? Yes, Dear Karen, bounty, yet balance BE.

    "Day Dream" by Rossetti sits in another contemplative reflection in my post of April 25, 2009, "In Words." Do visit.

    Thank you dear Karen - this indeed is poetry, a treasure of reflection and metaphor.

  11. How true, Karen! I loved this. In my case, it's Morning Glories. I wonder every year why I ever planted that first package. Every year they come back thicker and almost tear down my old redwood patio fence. But, oh, how beautiful they are with the early morning dew on them!!! I think there's a lesson for me there somewhere. LOL! Blessings!!

  12. I love how ivy does this, especially when it covers abandoned cars and buildings. One day, when we are gone or too distracted to notice, the ivy will take over, covering everything.

  13. Those vines do ensnare and shroud and conquer our first, pure intent. Remarkable how we can raise such a tangled maze from just one seed. And then how we helplessly try to reverse the momentum that we ourselves set off.

    The insidious metaphor of the vines is perfect here, Karen. They have a life of their own, and I can just picture them wrapping around the heart. That last line, in particular, made me feel their squeeze. Wonderful!

  14. It reflected a battle with a part of ones inner self to me. A vital part we fail to let go and it keeps on eating us bit by bit.

    I loved the flow and everything about it.

  15. Those tendrils are indeed relentless. Someday, we'll just stop pulling.

  16. Rose Marie - You have zeroed in on the fine distinctions we all seek, and you articulate them beautifully. Thank you. Balance be!

    Glynis - Thank you for your comment. I hope you and yours are safe from the dangers I'm reading about right now.

    Marion - Exactly the conundrum! When does enough become too much? It is all a matter of perception, don't you think? Glory in those flowers now, though. Soon enough, fall then winter...

    Rachel - My theory? Kudzu!

    Sarah - You have, once again, gone to the heart of this poem -- intentions that run amok. You are always so perceptive, dear Sarah!

    Aniket - Where have you been???!!! I hope you're all settled in now. We've missed you here! :-)

    Jason - If we could only learn to let it go...

  17. "Good intent that goes astray". Thoughtful message in this one. Really nice, Karen (and I mean that in a non-trite way).


  18. Kat - Thank you. Sometimes words mean just what they say, and I take yours with that particular intent. :-)

  19. maybe you should let your good intent go astray in any way it wants karen. that's certainly less stressful... :)
    so happy to be here after so long. how have you been?

  20. Beautiful, Karen! I especially love the image of the vines...and the last stanza's punch. I just read your comment about Bolts of Silk. Congratulations! I'm tickled to death. You rock!! Your words are truly beautiful.

    And congratulations on your new grandchild. Did you say she's here...or on the way? You've certainly got your hands full with many obligations, too. Thinking of you:)

  21. LGL - Welcome back! I think you're right - I just need to breathe and let it go!

    Julie - Thank you for your comment on the poem and for recommending Bolts of Silk. I was truly surprised to have something chosen for print there. She actually chose what I think of as my best (at least it's my favorite) poem.

    The grandbaby - Julia Catherine - is on due to be born on November 9, her mother's 30th birthday. She'll be my fourth grandchild under the age of 6, so you can imagine how we hop around here when they're all home. We're the half-way point between families, so they gather here, and this ole Grammy is in hog heaven! Thank goodness there's a fantastic Poppy, too. I am truly blessed.

  22. Jules, Sorry about the poor editing above.

  23. Love the layering of your poem and the English
    feel, for me anyway. Oh, How we strive to
    rid a thing we planted the seed for.

    Capital blog!

  24. this appeared to me, at first, to be a kind of quiet reflection - a sign of resignation - but the last line rang with a gravitas that took me right back to the beginning and completely altered the feel.

    i sense the war is partly with ourselves - between wanting to let things grow without losing control, wanting to give what we can without being taken advantage of. we can't totally uproot it - but we know it will overtake us if we let it.

    i love when a poem can take me in different directions as i'm reading it - and this one did.

  25. Beautifully written. Keep penning :)

  26. oops, forgot to mention - congrats on bolts of silk!

  27. Marie - Thanks. I think the English feel may have something to do with the rhythm of the lines.

    joaquin - Thank you. You're the first person who really mentioned the warring, which I thought might have been a little overdone. (Either I am embarrassingly right about that or entirely wrong!) I hesitated to use the image of the heart, but the vanquishing of soul, spirit, heart was just what I wanted to say, so heart it is!

    Thanks for your congrats and for continuing to visit and comment here.

    Jal Pari - Welcome, and thanks!

  28. Just popped over to Bolts of Silk, to read your wonderful piece that has been posted there. Congratulations! It is a fine piece of work and highly deserving of being published.


  29. Love it, short and sweet and so made me think of Marcovaldo and the 'encroachment' of nature into humanity and the war of our good intent versus the so called trespass.

    Have a fab weekend sweet,

    congrats on your poem in Bolts of Silk, much deserved,


  30. Kat - Thank you, and thanks for commenting there.

    Sarah - I love it when I learn something new! I am unfamiliar with Marcovaldo, but after reading your comment and a description of Calvino's book, I want to read it. Thanks for the intro!

  31. There should be a name for the literary device that talks about something under the guise of talking about something else entirely. Perhaps there is and I just don't know it. Anyway, this is a lovely example of it, what ever it is. There's a fun mini series, maybe just over, on the BBC called Desperate Romantics, about the PreRaphaelite Brotherhood. Rosetti is very dashing, but Jane Morris hasn't made an appearance yet. It's not exactly historically accurate but enjoyble nonetheless. Coming to a DVD near you soon. You might look for it.

  32. Hi, Mairi! I'm glad to hear from you. Do you suppose this is some half-baked pathetic fallacy? I'm not sure exactly what to call it, but I'm glad you recognized it!

    I will look for Desparate Romantics. It sounds like it's just the sort of thing I like.

  33. Hi Karen,

    Cool, I'll be interested to hear what you make of it.)

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