Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Celebrating National Poetry Month: When Springtime breaks in Oregon's Willamette Valley--Poet Samuel L. Simpson

In celebrating National Poetry Month, I must confess that the advent of Spring in Eugene, Oregon is  a spectacular, remarkable and memorable event.

Springtime arrives in Eugene, Oregon:set against
the backdrop of the Pacific Cascades
photo by Mike Wagner

Nestled in the Willamette Valley of Southern Oregon, Eugene is bombarded almost daily with persistent bleary Northwest winter showers from late November onward.

The rains  cease in April and the sudden arrival of spring  transforms the area into a shimmering emerald paradise.

It is for this reason that I chose Samuel L. Simpson's poem, The Beautiful Willamette to celebrate the dramatic arrival of spring

Here are the opening lines of the poem:  

From the Cascades' frozen gorges,
Leaping like a child at play,
Winding, widening through the valley,
Bright Willamette glides away,
Onward ever, 
Lovely river, 
Softly calling to the sea;

Spring's green witchery is weaving
Braid and border for thy side;
Grace forever haunts thy journey,
Beauty dimples on thy tide;
Through the purple gates of morning.... (italics and enlarged type- mine)

The Willamette River runs through Eugene, Oregon, Photo 

The emerald green campus of the University of Oregon, Photo

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Signs of awakened Spring
In trees tinged with pink purple hues
Wraith boughs-winter begone.

I have been celebrating National Poetry Month with poems reminding us of our brutal, horrific and long-lasting winter and the long-awaited advent of a dramatic spring. You can find poems and lines by T.S.Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Camus William Wordsworth, Rachel France (Haiku) and by yours truly (Signs of Awakened Spring, Haiku).

Click here to see my Twitter Poetry Selection.

Click here to read my blog introducing National Poetry Month.

So what is a Haiku poem and why did I choose this form?

Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry consisting of three lines of verse. The first line usually has 5 syllables, the second has 7 and the third has 3. The message is strongly visual and concise.

The reason I favor this form of poetic expression is because it is conducive to twitter's maximum of 140 characters including a four color photo . And most important, "brevity is the soul of wit." (Shakespeare's Hamlet )

Why convey a message in over 40,000 lines of verse (the approximate length of Dante's Inferno) when you can convey a strong message in three lines?

Won't your reader be more amenable to reading and understanding your poem, especially with a graphic?

The reason I wrote my above Haiku is simple.

As I was driving in my neighborhood on a recent, rainy and dreary day, an amazing scene caught my attention. I was surrounded by stark skeletal wraith-like arms of trees soaring into the darkened skies.

Lo and behold, right before me were purple pink budding leaves of a magnolia tree 'firing' into life. It was a REBIRTH OF SPRING.

I pulled out my i- phone and quickly captured the scene. The event inspired me to translate this heightened experience into a Haiku. A simple, dramatic, sensual visual event-- instantaneously perceived--became the basis of the Haiku.

So, perhaps my reader will share my sense of wonder and amazement of spring's late--but dramatic- arrival expressed in the Haiku.

Enjoy, the ceaseless cycle of the seasons, especially today Earth Day.

Late Spring:wraith-like boughs 
contrasted with burgeoning pink buds 

Click here for my homage today-- EARTH DAY-- to the poignant photography of the environmentalist and photographer Ansel Adams. He died this day, April 22, in  1984.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Celebrating National Poetry Month and the Anticipation of Spring

National Poetry Month was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets.

It was designed to "increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States."

My mom instilled my love of poetry often quoting-- by memory-- from the sonnets of William Shakespeare and John Milton.

After majoring in English at Columbia University where I wrote my Masters Thesis on John Milton's extended poem, Samson Agonistes, I taught poetry and prose at Wisconsin State University, Essex County Community College and  Montclair State University.

Epic poems and dramatic verse included in my survey of Western Literature included The Iliad, The OresteiaThe Aeneid, The Song of Roland, Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost. Biblical verse included The Psalms as well.

Why am I posting poems this month on my twitter page?

First, April is designated as National Poetry Month. So why not create a buzz for poetry?

A seven foot  wall of a snow/ice mixture lines my 
driveway just a few weeks ago in March, 2015

Next, this winter has been long, cruel and has been delaying the onset of spring. (Witness the photo above.)  Spring is officially upon us almost three weeks as of this writing, but you would never know it.

We are enduring cloudy, rainy wintry days with temps barely rising into the 40's.

 T.S. Eliot's opening lines from The Wasteland ring true:

     April is the cruellest month, breeding
     Lilacs out the dead land,  mixing
     Memory and desire, stirring
     Dull roots with spring rain.
     Winter kept us warm, covering
     Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
     A little life with dried tubers. 

So I thought it appropriate to select poems that herald the start of Spring starting with lines from William Wordsworth's Daffodils.

Here is a link to my twitter page to inhale the aroma of Spring from some outstanding poets and noteworthy authors like Albert Camus.

Enjoy, as I will likewise do -  my posting poems several times weekly.