Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Oh, I've missed you so. I'm still spinning more plates than logistically possible, but I wanted to express my GRATITUDE for Poetry Friday peeps new and old right here before Thanksgiving, and offer a glimpse into a new book I'm grateful for, too.
Last weekend we made a trip over to our new-to-us second home (for which we are beyond thankful) in the colorful foothills of the SC Upstate. We bought a place on two acres last summer as a way to more readily connect with our busy grown kids, not too far from Asheville (where our son and his girlfriend are) and just a couple of hours up the road from our daughter and her hubby's home in north Georgia. It's become a welcome respite, not terribly far from civilization but woodsy enough to evoke a sigh, rocking on the front porch gazing at the trees. Trees which were still blazing gold and red and magic last weekend.
I had tucked into my bag the copy of WILD PEACE I'd just bought, written by our own wonderful Irene Latham and illustrated by Il Sung Na (Roaring Brook, 2021.) Our last morning there, though I needed to get back to beat the post office closing time because of Etsy orders, we scheduled a Spectrum repair/service call because that's when we could make it happen. After the young man left, I stole away for a scant few moments of quiet outside, Irene's book in hand. (We'd actually spent the whole weekend catching up with friends and family who were either coming through, staying nearby, or otherwise free to meet up in the area. Blissful visits, but not much downtime!)
On a previous trip I'd discovered this random little rock outcropping in the front yard, crouched near trees. I dubbed it "Frog Rock" because, to me, it calls to mind a frog - what do you think? Anyway, it makes a handy seat for resting and solitary pondering, so I claimed it. (Though I'd share, too, if you ever come to visit....) I took WILD PEACE down the hill to read and savor it there, even if only for a short time.
When the world fills with noise and fury,
and the days pass,
all rush and scurry, it's time to step into the forest.
So begins our character's escape from her busy home - with her loud and busy siblings - into a joy-filled journey through the natural world. The illustrations lead us on, from initial surroundings rendered in gray, into the child's colorful and exubrant artwork, which leads us further still into the vivid, wild woods.
I love that all creatures are celebrated:
Peace rises on
and coils around
a nest of eggs.
Peace expresses itself in all kinds of wondrous ways in the wild - you'll have to read the book yourself to discover more! Here's Irene's post about it from a few weeks ago.
While enjoying the lilting and energetic poem-story, I also thought this book would pair perfectly with (again) our own wonderful Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's FOREST HAS A SONG, illustrated by Robbin Gourley (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). Learn more about this book here.
So I'm grateful to Irene for encouraging me to pause this week for some colorful, quiet moments out in the "wild" - which always take me back to the childhood I've never outgrown, in which I rambled for endless hours in the scrubby, piney, perfect Florida woods.
In our mountain house, which is kind of a Celtic Cabin as it were (rustic decor with nods everywhere to our Scottish, Irish, and British roots), I put up the picture of an excerpt of the Hopkins poem I've shared before, delighted to have discovered it in a public space in Edinburgh during our 2018 family trip. I never tire of it, so please indulge me in another sharing. (We had the good fortune of visiting Loch Lomond, the site of this poem's subject.)
by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89)
THIS darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.
Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
Yes - Long live the weeds and the wilderness!
Wishing you and yours a Thanksgiving of joy and good health, or comfort in the absence of those. If you need a little peace, I know just the book to suggest... it would make a great gift! And Irene kindly sent on this link which includes WILD PEACE, FOREST HAS A SONG, and more woodsy wonders.
(Speaking of gifts, I'm still planning on getting a holiday artsyletters newsletter out - I've been covered up in orders for weeks, but want to wave hello! If you'd like to sign up, just click here.)
The multi-talented Carol has our Roundup this week at Beyond Literacy Link - Thanks, Carol! She also has a dazzling autumn gallery to share with contributions from many talented folks, and this Wordsworth quote in the mix:
"Wild is the music of autumnal winds amongst the faded woods."