The Poetic Process (Part One)

The mountain ash tree in our yard has been turning red for the past several days. It is such a striking image that I think I will write a poem about it. This is usually how poems come to me: through striking images that lend themselves to metaphoric thought. Since I have this blog, I would like to share with you the process that leads to a poem. I will try to update the blog along the way, so that you can see the versions of the poem as it evolves.

So far, this image leads me to thoughts of a beautiful loneliness. The tree holds its leaves long after other trees are bare. I am reminded of Shakespeare's sonnet 73:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

The beauty of the ash tree holds out against the winter, and that holding out somehow intensifies that beauty, which climaxes just before it disappears.


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