Lisa at dVerse Poetics: One True Sentence writes: “Your challenge today, should you choose to accept it, is to pick ONE of Hemingway’s quotes to be inspired by and write a poem. Do NOT use the quote in your poem, but please do include the quote on your post page somewhere, with Hemingway’s name as the source of inspiration. For bonus points, please say a few words about the experience of writing to an idea from the mind of Papa Hemingway.” Channeling Hemingway was a fun challenge for dVerse: his abbreviated diction, especially in dialogue, the unsaid reflected in the landscape as much as in the pools of silence surrounding a character. Click on Mr. Linky and join in!
‘It’s gone the way the mist is burned off the hollows in broken ground when the sun comes out,’ the Colonel said. ‘And you’re the sun.’ – Ernest Hemingway, Across the River and into the Trees (1950)
Psalm 104: 10-13 You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
Some of you have noticed the tagline to my site title “This Jolly Beggar”: “In Absolute Joyful, Dependance on the Grace and Love of God.” The story behind that is on my “C. S. Lewis on Jolly Beggars” page.
So when I saw these tiny sparkling blue flowers in an out-of-the-way patch of dirt down an alley, I recognized in them this quality of joyful dependance on God. Nothing dimmed their sparkle. And eyes that were open to their presence were blessed beyond all reason. Why? Because languishing here in this little patch where no one noticed them, these little stalks of blue stars, these jolly beggars boldly testified to God’s faithfulness.
Today I read of another “jolly beggar,” Rika Theron, who lives in South Africa. As the author of the article on Rika writes:
This. This is a life of suffering. And this is a life of breathtaking beauty. . . . .
In a world that worships fame and productivity, indulgences and self-sufficiency, Rika’s life may seem unbearably difficult. She has not enjoyed the fleeting pleasures afforded to most people and has spent her life in relative seclusion, in pain and dependent on others. Yet watching Rika live in joyful dependence on God, touching the seen and unseen world, I realize she’s changing the universe as she fights her daily battles – perhaps having a greater impact on the kingdom of God than celebrities with large ministries. In heaven, the people who have suffered alone, in a small corner of the world, will shine more brightly than we can imagine.
Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember
John Updike (1932-2009) still casts a long shadow on the literary landscape. His writings were varied and many, but his craftsmanship set the standard among his contemporaries. He was only one of four writers who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction more than once.
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, he once described his subject as “the American small town, Protestant middle-class” everyman. His clarity of style and expression is the hallmark of his writing, causing a critic for The Guardian to warn, “The clarity of Updike’s poetry should not obscure its class.”
The following poem quickly became one of my favorites for its simple directness and descriptive force in conveying the grace available in the simple act of “Planting Trees.” The poem is from his fifth collection of poetry, Facing Nature.
Planting Trees John Updike
Our last connection with the mythic. My mother remembers the day as a girl she jumped across a little spruce that now overtops the sandstone house where still she lives; her face delights at the thought of her years translated into wood so tall, into so mighty a peer of the birds and the wind.
Too, the old farmer still stout of step treads through the orchard he has outlasted but for some hollow-trunked much-lopped apples and Bartlett pears. The dogwood planted to mark my birth flowers each April, a soundless explosion. We tell its story time after time: the drizzling day, the fragile sapling that had to be staked.
At the back of our acre here, my wife and I, freshly moved in, freshly together, transplanted two hemlocks that guarded our door gloomily, green gnomes a meter high. One died, gray as sagebrush next spring. The other lives on and some day will dominate this view no longer mine, its great lazy feathery hemlock limbs down-drooping, its tent-shaped caverns resinous and deep. Then may I return, an old man, a trespasser, and remember and marvel to see our small deed, that hurried day, so amplified, like a story through layers of air told over and over, spreading.
Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember
As noted in yesterday’s common-place jotting on “Unto the Hert’s Forest,” history records that the poet, courtier, and diplomat Sir Thomas Wyatt (1501-1542) was rumored to have had, if not illicit relations, then certainly a dangerous affection for the flirtatious Anne Boleyn. Why dangerous? Because she was first the mistress, then the wife of the king of England, Henry VIII. Later, when she fell out of favor with Henry, she was beheaded on charges of adultery and treason. Wyatt was sent to the Tower of London, but through the efforts of Thomas Cromwell, escaped execution.
It is quite possible that the following sonnet expresses his anguish over his impossible love for Anne which, were he to pursue her, would be in vain. There is a hint in the poem that she is like a deer scenting the hunt; but the pursuit comes with an inherent warning to all: Noli me tangere, (“touch me not”) for Caesar’s I am.
Whoso List to Hunt, I Know Where is an Hind Sir Thomas Wyatt
“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.
“As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol