Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist


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Hannah enjoying poetry workshop


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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich

Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
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Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller http://www.debbiemilleralaska.com

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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - a Taste of the 1920s with Amy Lowell

July 14, 2016

Tags: Poetry Friday, poets, Amy Lowell, ponderings, poetry, imagists, hokku



Greetings, Friends! Happy Poetry Friday. Not exactly sure how last week slipped sand-like through my fingers, but summer sometimes has that effect...

Speaking of such, I'm all about time today. Over at my art blog I have a short post about 1920s accents found on Etsy in our daughter's wedding a few weeks ago. So, time as in periods of time. That got me thinking about a book I recently bought, published in the '20s. I actually bought this one to read rather than to repurpose!

It's an edition of Amy Lowell's Pulitzer Prize-winning What's O'Clock (Houghton Mifflin Company). Isn't that a splendid title? It's from Shakespeare's King Richard III.

I'm a fan of Amy Lowell's - well, all those early 20th-Century imagists. She died in 1925, the year What's O'Clock was published, along with her biography of Keats.

I'm still exploring the poems, but because of my Lowcountry locale must share these two from the collection, as Charleston and Middleton Place (where my hubby and I stayed one weekend last fall) are just a bit up the road.


CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA


Fifteen years is not a long time,

but long enough to build a city over and destroy it.

Long enough to clean a forty-year growth of grass

            from between cobblestones,

And run street-car lines straight across the heart of

            romance.

Commerce, are you worth this?

I should like to bring a case to trial:

Prosperity versus Beauty,

Cash registers teetering in a balance against the com-

            fort of the soul.

then, to-night, i stood looking through a grilled gate

At an old, dark garden.

Live-oak trees dripped branchfuls of leaves over the

            wall,

Acacias waved dimly beyond the gate, and the smell

            of their blossoms

Puffed intermittently through the wrought-iron scroll-

            work.

Challenge and solution -

O loveliness of old, decaying, haunted things!

Little streets untouched, shamefully paved,

Full of mist and fragrance on this rainy evening.

"You should come at dawn," said my friend,

"And see the orioles, and thrushes, and mocking-

            birds

In the garden."

"Yes," I said absent-mindedly,

And remarked the sharp touch of ivy upon my hand

            which rested against the wall.

But I thought to myself,

There is no dawn here, only sunset,

And an evening rain scented with flowers.




[**NOTE/UPDATE: The Middleton Place poem below contains French references as well as words of sadness and of death. When I posted this on Thursday, it was before seeing reports of the extensive horror that occurred in Nice. Our hearts are, once again and much too soon, with the people of France.**]



THE MIDDLETON PLACE

Charleston, S. C.


What would Francis Jammes, lover of dear, dead

            elegancies,

Say to this place?

France, stately, formal, stepping in red-heeled shoes

Along a river shore.

France walking a minuet between live-oaks waving

            ghostly fans of Spanish moss.

La Caroline, indeed, my dear Jammes,

With Monsieur Michaux engaged to teach her de-

            portment.

Faint as a whiff of flutes and hautbois,

the great circle of the approach lies beneath the

            sweeping grasses.

Step lightly down these terraces, they are records of

            a dream.

Magnolias, pyrus japonicas, azaleas,

Flaunting their scattered blossoms with the same bra-

            vura

That lords and ladies used in the prison of the Con-

            ciergerie.

You were meant to be so gay, so sophisticated, and

            you are so sad,

Sad as the tomb crouched amid your tangled growth,

Sad as the pale plumes of the Spanish moss

Slowly strangling the live oak trees.


Sunset wanes along the quiet river.

the afterglow is haunted and nostalgic,

Over the yellow woodland it hangs like the dying

            chord of a funeral chant;

And evenly, satirically, the mosses move to its inef-

            fable rhythm,

Like the ostrich fans of palsied dowagers

Telling one another contendedly of the deaths they

            have lived to see.




And, finally, of course I must share a few gems from

TWENTY-FOUR HOKKU ON A MODERN THEME

(Hokku technically refers to the first verses of a renga. We would say "haiku" now, and it could be argued some of these are more "haiku-like." The imagists were influenced by Japanese poetic forms.)


            I

Again the lakspur,

Heavenly blue in my garden.

They, at least, unchanged.



            XIX

Love is a game - yes?

I think it is a drowning:

Black willows and stars.



            XXIV

Staying in my room,

I thought of the new Spring leaves.

That day was happy.




Thanks for spending YOUR time meandering through Amy Lowell poems over here today.

Please visit our Chief Rounder-Upper and wonderful poet and teacher herself, Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for today's Roundup.

[--& HUGE congrats this week to our own Irene Latham, who was just awarded the International Literacy Association (ILA) Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award! Also - still celebrating our own Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, recipient of the first Lee Bennett Hopkins SCBWI Poetry Award this spring. So much talent throughout these Poetry Friday rounds....]

Comments

  1. July 14, 2016 8:52 PM EDT
    Thanks for sharing these gems, Robyn. The events of today made these lines stand out to me:
    France, stately, formal, stepping in red-heeled shoes

    Along a river shore.

    France walking a minuet between live-oaks

    - Sally Murphy
  2. July 14, 2016 10:07 PM EDT
    I would not be an impartial juror in the case of "Prosperity versus Beauty..."
    - Mary Lee Hahn
  3. July 14, 2016 11:47 PM EDT
    Hi, Sally - thanks for that connection. I posted early Thurs., before hearing reports of the extent of the horror. Breaks our hearts all over the world. Sending warmest thoughts & wishes to you on the other side from here.

    Mary Lee, thanks for hosting & for coming by! Interesting choice there, no? I've read Amy Lowell was an astute business woman as well as poet.
    - Robyn Black
  4. July 15, 2016 6:52 AM EDT
    That first poem ends on the most enchanting note, "an evening rain scented with flowers." Then I marveled at all the magnificent adjectives in the second poem. Being a poet who tried not to scatter adjectives too freely, I was intoxicated by the unexpected wealth.
    - Brenda at friendlyfairytales
  5. July 15, 2016 8:36 AM EDT
    Thanks for visiting, Brenda. With those adjectives, I was transported right back to Middleton Place, though I visited almost 100 years later!
    - Robyn Black
  6. July 15, 2016 9:18 AM EDT
    I'll take beauty over prosperity any time. Thanks for sharing these gorgeous poems, Robyn.
    - Tara
  7. July 15, 2016 9:35 AM EDT
    Thanks for coming by, Tara - and, Yay - a vote for Beauty!
    - Robyn Black
  8. July 15, 2016 10:04 AM EDT
    Delightful! LOVE the wedding photo. Congratulations!
    The 1920s has such a pull on me.....the duality of the fun times v. undercurrent of what was coming in history--the changing roles for women in this. Oh, that era just does me in. I'm fascinated.
    Recently, I attended a wedding and insisted on a flapper style dress, shoes & jewelry because...why not?
    I'm a poet without a tremendous background in poetry. So, I really appreciate the Amy Lowell offerings today.
    Summer indeed!
    - Linda
  9. July 15, 2016 10:38 AM EDT
    Hi, Linda - thanks so much, on all accounts! Glad you enjoyed the Amy Lowell selections. All those tensions for women in that time... you articulated so well. Glad to hear of a kindred spirit re. wedding attire, too!
    - Robyn Black
  10. July 15, 2016 2:02 PM EDT
    Beautiful. Love the dip into the twenties. Love the question of first poem. The challenges do not change much. Holding on to the beauty and loveliness.
    - Julieanne
  11. July 15, 2016 2:34 PM EDT
    Thank you for the introduction to Amy Lowell's work, Robyn, these selections are gems. "Prosperity versus Beauty" - indeed. =)
    - Bridget Magee
  12. July 15, 2016 3:53 PM EDT
    I've enjoyed every part of the wedding you've shared, Robyn, all so gorgeous. The pic today appears lost in time, that black & white & the car, doesn't it? With so much tragedy recently, I am constantly thinking of the day before, and how one day made it all different. Thus, I loved all that you shared, but especially this fits to me, though sad to see it:

    Again the lakspur,

    Heavenly blue in my garden.

    They, at least, unchanged.

    Thanks for so much sharing!
    - Linda Baie
  13. July 15, 2016 7:54 PM EDT
    An abundance of beauty -- thank you!
    - Keri Collins Lewis
  14. July 15, 2016 11:13 PM EDT
    Thanks for visiting, Julieanne - and you are quite right; amazing how timely those 90-plus-year-old words are!

    Hi, Bridget - so glad to make the introduction! ;0) We're still weighing the same questions, aren't we?

    Linda, thanks for all of those lovely thoughts, and I'm so glad you put into words what I was feeling about the larkspur verse. That one just pierced me, reading it again after the tragic news of last night.

    Hi, Keri - thank YOU for coming by to visit! Wishing you abundant beauty this summer.
    - Robyn Black
  15. July 16, 2016 10:52 AM EDT
    Lowell's poems cast a "haunted and nostalgic" afterglow that is nevertheless inviting. Maybe because these landscapes are so different from rolling New England countryside I'm used to. Thanks so much for sharing, Robyn!
    - Catherine @ Reading to the Core
  16. July 16, 2016 6:49 PM EDT
    Hi, Catherine - thanks so much for coming down, all the way from that New England countryside. The Spanish moss around here is definitely haunting, and beautiful!
    - Robyn Black
  17. July 20, 2016 12:59 AM EDT
    Oh Lowell! I haven't thought of her in years. I used to love one of her poems about "wandering down the garden paths," it had something about buttons and was sad. :P Have to go look it up now. Love the first poem especially. I wanna drift through that garden gate too like the acacia scent!
    - Carlie www.twinklingalong.blogspot.com
  18. July 20, 2016 9:02 AM EDT
    Hi, Carlie - thanks for visiting! Love your descriptor, "it had something about buttons and was sad..." ;0)
    - Robyn Black

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