Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.” I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”
I was really on a blank-verse jag that year for some reason. More rhyme is coming soon; I promise. I don’t even remember where this landscape was, but it reminds me of some parts of Wyoming, or of the Salisbury Plain near Stonehenge (though I had never seen it at that time, nor was I in Wyoming that year). It also brings to mind Tolkien’s barrow downs. Clearly it was somewhere not in the Appalachians seen by someone whose way of relating to landscapes is defined by places that are. The specific location is forgotten, but not the feel of it. That is where poetry is valuable.
It was a bare place, despite the vegetation.
There was grass on the rounded hills, the long slopes,
A few trees standing, just enough
To make you notice that there were not more.
They were dark evergreens, stooped with age.
They did not stand in bunches, but alone,
Spread out like silent sentinels to watch
The years and keep a record of their doings.
There was wind in the grass and the twisted limbs. There was
Too little between a man and the horizon.
You ought to have to climb awhile before
The sky can open up and leave you standing
Emptied out of everything but wonder.
You ought to have to go past dripping ferns,
Cool with water seeping from the rocks.
The graceful arms of trees should pull back slowly
To open in an unexpected meadow,
Then fold together again to receive you back.
It ought to be a thing you have to seek,
Perhaps unconsciously, and then return from,
Weakened and yet stronger for the journey.
It is not always so, for there was grass
On rounded hills, and wind was in the grass,
And the sky was all around you, all around you,
And lonely trees told tales that had no words.
Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.
Donald T. Williams, PhD