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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Poem: Battle over the Meadow

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Battle over the Meadow


You wouldn’t know it
but there is a battle
over the meadow

and if you have
emperor eyes
from thirty feet

you can see a spark
of red iridescently, and green
the color of a mallard’s

cravat, flashing
like tiny, distant epaulettes
of a Russian

officer under the almost
melancholy gaze
of Napoleon

across a field
assessing numbers, the
morning, the sun’s saber,

the black locust tree’s strategic
conversation with
robin about the worm,

the bottle-green line
of spider silk
crossed and recrossed

in the attack of the dragonflies
whose wings pulse and quiver
in the sun, shuttling

and defending their snatch
of gnats
and mosquitoes

whose air belongs to them
fleetingly
but deliciously, the morning

being so frangible
with almost
immortality















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62 comments:

missing moments said...

Ruth, this is so beautiful and what a lovely way to describe the going ons in the earth around us.

Just beautiful!

Oh said...

The pictures. You got me with the pictures. I will now go back and read your poem. I just had to see "bravo" for the pictures.

(as an aside: daughter is now engaged and wants very much to have an outdoor country wedding, as in, on a farm. They are looking for one, she and her fiancee. Had to share with her the pictures you had from the one at your place. An inspiration. In fact, that was when (somehow) I first found your blog. Anyway just wanted to let you know...again, there's magic in your pictures!)

ok, will now go back and read poem!
It is such a lovely "trip"/evolution to read/follow you as your poetry continues to flow...and captures us along the way.

Allison said...

Beautiful. Thanks for putting it out there.

Old 333 said...

I love this! 'if you have Emperor eyes/at thirty feet'...that is a truly great line. This is magnificent! Makes me feel like I'm lying on my belly in the sun, watching all the tiny fun.

Maureen said...

There's a kind of breathlessness to this, the way a battle must be. You "dress" and "arm" nature vividly. I especially like "... the morning// being so frangible / with almost / immorality".

Vagabonde said...

The poem plus the pictures make it an exquisite package. I can read your words, see the pictures and then my mind hears the birds and the insects in the meadow. It’s like a visual rhapsody champêtre (in the country.)

ds said...

Oh! Oh! I am in delight; I laugh--and I sigh. The colors, in the photos, in the poem ("a mallard's/cravat"); the attack of the dragonflies; Napoleon; frangible (frangible! glorious word!). Yes, it has been such a morning. Wonderful morning. Wonderful poem & photos & you. Ahhh...

George said...

What a wonderful and appropriate day to visit your Michigan meadow and farm! And, yes, there is always that battle for the meadow in which the air belongs to all "fleetingly but deliciously," where everything is breakable, and where life changes costumes minute by minute.

hedgewitch said...

Beautiful and airy images seem to remake the concept of battle into a ballet, yet in nature even the most beautiful things have an imperative to war. Lovely iris--ours are just over here--I love their multicolored lances that come out to first joust with the spring.

Friko said...

frangible ?
Glorious word, I thought I knew them all.

This is the sort of scene you see while lying on your belly in the grass, eyes half closed against the slanting rays of the sun.

War indeed.

steven said...

ruth - i've spent my day gardening. it's hard work isn't it! in the process i watched baby birds with overly protective mothers, bees gathering pollen from every blossom in the garden, chipmunks running every which way, dragonflies, mosquitoes, a couple of butterflies and talked to the whole bunch of them. especially the baby birds who needed to be reminded to "calm down" every so often. it's a lively alive world. i love your writing. really i do!!! steven

Brendan said...

"As the Eye is form'd, so are it's Powers" - Billy Blake's comment on this manner of seeing the empire of its meadow-sized inhabitants. So much rapture for the tongue in the lines, lavish and exquisite. The pix are gorgeous but in this case make the insides of the lines a bit harder to see the "almost/immortality." But heck -- double treat. - Brendan

Arti said...

I don't mind to be caught in the crossfire in this glorious battlefield! What a creative way to describe your meadow, Ruth, and the photos are just beautiful. I'm partial to Irises... don't know why. Tried to plant some in my front yard but have never fully succeeded. Maybe because of the high latitude and altitude here. To compensate, I just need to take a virtual visit to your meadow.

The Broad said...

Ruth, I love the poem -- the visuals from it are sublime - I so wish I had written those words myself! Iris I love -- there is something ethereal even mystical about them, which your pictures manage to evoke. Lovely.

rosaria said...

I've enjoyed this a whole lot, juicy images, breathless tempo.

Amy@Souldipper said...

Frangible! Who knew? Thank you for a new word for my vocabulary. It IS all so frangible, yet it all comes together with perfection.

Peter said...

Napoleon everywhere ... now even in your poems! :-)

The Solitary Walker said...

So, it seems you're up to Austerlitz in 'War and Peace', then! (Or could you even have reached Borodino?)

Ruth said...

Reena, thank you so much. The day was incredible yesterday, and I just had to show you.

Pauline said...

" the morning

being so frangible
with almost
immortality"

What a delicious line! I'd not thought of the meadow as a battlefield but of course! War was never so lovingly described.

Ruth said...

Oh! Thank you, I have not been particularly inspired to take photos lately. Then yesterday dawned, and this light, and it was all new again. I wanted to show both in words and pictures a bit of the feel of it.

Oh lovely that your daughter is engaged, congratulations. A country wedding too, oh yes, it is in my soul, to see people married in this setting, surrounded by the stuff of life. I hope you/she will find a perfect spot, and that it will be as wonderful as ours was. We still dream back to it, and the incredible feelings of sweet energy present here that day.

Thank you for remarking about the poetry evolving. It feels good to me to write, and just pure pleasure to have you enjoy it.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Allison, for reading.

Ginnie said...

Ruth. I want to be there right now....

Ruth said...

Peter, thanks! Some lie on their belly, some on their back. There's plenty of tiny life expanding in every direction. I love slowing down to look.

Ruth said...

Maureen, haha, these run-on poems make me breathless too, reading, and writing them. I was almost breathless getting back to the house to write stuff down, because I forgot my notepad . . .

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, I really must meet you when you come to Michigan sometime, or in Atlanta, so I can hear you say champêtre. Thank you very much for your lovely words.

Ruth said...

Dear DS, it gives me some small (and big) pleasure that you laugh here, knowing you are in pain from your injury. I hope that at the very least you will enjoy more beautiful weather, and inspiration, and every day feeling better and better. Thank you for your kind words, always and ever.

Ruth said...

George, yes, the battle is there, yet we don't always feel it that way. There is something about Napolean's long, silent gaze at the prospect before him on the battlefield that speaks to me about feeling, as much as seeing and thinking. And then I contemplate how Derry would see and feel the meadow . . .

Ruth said...

Hedgewitch, thanks. Iris as lance makes me think of the fleur de lis on many a shield. Yes, the forms of bud and blossom are incredibly different in this one flower.

Ruth said...

Friko, you know every word now.

Yes, belly or back in the grass. I read the most amazing passage in War & Peace yesterday, when one of the main characters was struck down in battle, not fatally, but as he lay there on his back looking at the sky . . .

"Above him there was nothing but the sky—the lofty sky, not clear, but still immeasurably lofty, with grey clouds creeping quietly over it. . . . ". . . how happy I am to have found it at last. Yes! all is vanity, all is a cheat, except that infinite sky. There is nothing, nothing like that. But even that is not, there is nothing but peace and stillness."

Ruth said...

Steven, yes, gardening is hard work . . . more for others than for me. :-) Thank you for your attentions the world. Even your comment pays attention to the smallest creatures, and it thrills me.

Ruth said...

Brendan, I know. I know. I agree that the photos are unnecessary and perhaps even a distraction here. But I couldn't help myself, the morning was that glorious and begged to be told and shown. I would have doubled it yet again with sound and smell if I could have recorded them. Thanks for your very kind words.

ellen abbott said...

beautiful picture of all the iris. lovely poem about the meadow.

erin said...

i wonder if that last line could read mortality or immortality. i read it first in my mind as mortality, as it was such a physical place.

your poem brings me to an interesting place, a challenging place. i want to say the meadow is peace and balance. i wonder if war is so natural. it is a new notion to me that empathy is learned and so i am an infant in these tactics. i've been naive. could it be that the meadow is a battle field? or is it most likely that it is both peace and war, therefore - the balance.

wonderful poem. i had to chance my reading style as i read aloud. i had expected soft because of the picture. i had to cut my tongue.

xo
erin

jen revved said...

This is gorgeous. Please continue to follow and comment-- I'd appreciate it. xj

Jeanie said...

Oh, yes -- your meadow and so many others! There's such a rich civilization floating in the air, battling for turf. We'll see bits and pieces, but we really never see it all! Somehow, I think you have!

cathyswatercolors said...

Hi Ruth, beautiful poem and photographs. The Iris look irredescent. You must of had visitors at the farm with chairs arranged for conversation. Thank you for sharing life on the farm:)

Barb said...

Your photos make me feel like I'm there with you, Ruth, enjoying the green of spring. I love the lines, "the sun's saber" and "the bottle-green line of spider silk crossed and recrossed." I do wish moments like these could live forever.

Ruth said...

Arti, you are welcome in our meadow, and together we can contemplate the battle, and the iris, and all the things that might arise. Thank you for reading and appreciating, so much.

Ruth said...

Broad, that's the best compliment, thank you very much.

Oh iris. Ethereal, yes. The texture, shape, patterns of animal stripes, the difference between bud and blossom, they really are evocative.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Rosaria. I was trying to keep up with those darting dragonflies.

Ruth said...

Amy, it's a great word, and I was happy to discover it. There was something about its old French origins that spoke to me across the field with Napoleon.

Ruth said...

Peter, is there some commemoration in Paris about Napoleon?

Ruth said...

Robert, yes Austerlitz. Strangely enough, I was thrilled to see Napoleon standing there across the field, almost as thrilled as Rostov seeing the Tsar.

Don't they say that there is some of the breath of everyone who has ever lived in the air we breathe? I think the original reference about this science was to Julius Caesar.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Pauline. Reading War & Peace, I've been struck a number of times at the long stretches of silent watching the generals and emperors do. I think war is complete idiocy as a solution, but the comings and goings in this book show how much war is like any human enterprise, with a lot of thought, planning, mistakes, chance, greed, false pride, ignorance, randomness, etc. But when I watched the dragonflies above the meadow, it was nothing but dart, dive, and attack.

Stratoz said...

I am wondering how you would feel if I published this on my classroom wall.

wonderful.

Louise Gallagher said...

I want to be in your garden!

what a lovely, magical poem.

Susan said...

I love those garden battles! I see that your irises are in full bloom as mine are just finishing up with a few stragglers here and there. I love the fragrance. Beautiful imagery, as always.

Ruth said...

Boots, come on. Well, you will be close in a month!

Ruth said...

Ellen, thanks very much.

Ruth said...

Erin, you read my mind about mortality or immortality. Yes.

Yes, both peace and war (and I am reading War & Peace, from where this arose). The long, long measures of silence, of reflection, of open sky in that book, even on the battlefield. It is whole beauty, even in the stink of war.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Jen.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, not a millionth of it.

Ruth said...

Good eye, Cathy. We had five Korean families from Don's class. Some are moving back to Korea, so they came for a picnic before leaving. It was wonderful. And HOT.

Ruth said...

Barb, so true. The Sunday weather was a small asterisk in the parentheses of hot and cold that we have had this season. Thank you for your kind attention to my poem.

Ruth said...

Stratoz, a complete honor. Thank you!

Ruth said...

Louise, please come. Arti is already here. Well, you know I feel all of my friends here often, it is such an expanse and invitation to all life.

Ruth said...

Susie, thank you, my friend. Hard to believe what a difference there is in our garden timing just two states away. Stay cool!

Oliag said...

Each time I read one of your poems I think this one may be my favorite:) Love this. I have been watching very territorial hummingbirds recently...they seem to enjoy their battles..

Loring Wirbel said...

So alive!!

Won said...

I haven't realized this beautiful battle when I visited your farm.

I miss Don and you, your wonderful meadow, even mosquittoes there.

Ruth said...

Oliag, thank you so much. I've watched hummingbirds too, and it's amazing how ferocious they are!

Loring, thank you!

Won! Hello! It's so nice to see you. We are sad that we didn't take you back to the meadow. It was so hot, and the mosquitoes were very bad, so we only sat. But you played games, so well. We miss you too.