Norfolk

I miss your silent stare, harsh glint of dawning sun reflected in your murky face.

I miss your rhythmic slap, drumming through the night, quiet splash and ripple.

I miss the pull of wet rope through chilled fingers, the tautness of the sail.

I miss reeds and grasses, muddy shores, strange calls of unknown birds, the casual launchings of ducks.

I miss the smell of evening mist, swallowing your beauty until tomorrow; the sudden damp and clammy cold.

I seek your rivers Norfolk, carry me in your wind again, white sail against your green.

The first thing to note is how Loydell uses images that appeal to or suggest the five senses: "harsh glint" (sight), "rhythmic slap" (sound), "pull of wet rope" (touch), "smell of evening mist" (smell), and "swallowing your beauty" (taste). Notice the detail or allure of certain images: "quiet splash and ripple," "reeds and grasses," "the tautness of the sail," and "the casual launchings of ducks." Mark the repetition of "I miss" that generates each memory, a cadence like the breaking waves that conveys symbols of Norfolk like a sea chant. Finally, consider the final stanza in which the poet realizes that he, too, is part of the landscape: "I seek your rivers Norfolk,/carry me in your wind again,/white sail against your green."

Let's analyze a poem set on the other side of the Atlantic. Stan Rubin teaches poetry at the university in Brockport, New York, organizes writer's conferences there, and vacations on the Maine coast. "From a house on the bluffs, looking out at the wind-blown sea, one can see five islands and, beyond them, the open Atlantic," he says. "It's a landscape of cliffs, and wind, and fog, which can cover everything so that the ocean pounding the rocks can only be heard, far below, and the fire burning in the stone fireplace is reflected in fog. . . . It's a place where more than one ship —like the 'Caledonia' in my poem —has come to grief."

He adds, "On a clear night, the lights of three different lighthouses come, in alternating rhythms, into the dark room, into your dreams."

Here is his poem, a contemporary gothic, featuring sharp images and eerie truths:

HIGH SEA, COW POINT i

The first thing to think of, and maybe the last, is the continual, high whine of the sea ruining its edges, crashing on the rocks the way memory meets desire, or lightning strokes an entire forest to ash, leaving "Burnt Lands,"

as Thoreau found them (in his Ktaadn),

"no man's garden," but "Matter, vast, terrific," not "mother Earth that we have heard of" —

nor mother Sea, either, that the poets wrote, but this cold continent of drift.

What is the thing you fear most in a storm? Whose death would haunt you moonless in the warm chair, fire spraying on your face from a split spruce, the roundwood rapture of fire on your breath, whose name would you call lonely as a flame left burning in the ashes when ashes dry and every remembered touch is like a storm?

The Libby Island light flashes through the mist every twenty seconds.

Can it be seen above the Fundy fog when its horn is lost inside the relentless roar, lost, forever lost as certainly forever as the ship

"Caledonia" and her crew, as certainly forever as I thought the past was before this fire which turned out to be the fire of memory whose storm you can't outlast.

As you can see, Rubin's familiarity with the landscape helps him transcend mere description. On a piece of scratch paper, you might want to list the natural images that Rubin has observed. He knows those images so intimately that he can address readers directly, move them emotionally, and state universal truths about nature and memory—replete with an epiphany in the final line.

According to Rubin, "Landscape means far more than a physical description, however vivid. I call those 'postcard' poems. Landscape really exists for us only in the human presence, the human consciousness. It includes everyone who ever lived in it, or ever viewed it with real attention. Landscape includes what happened there. It embodies human memory and desire."

Now that you are familiar with the concepts of perception and perspective, we can discuss another ingredient in the making of nature poetry: culture.

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