Friday, October 4, 2019

Poetry Friday: Pastoral

A pastoral is a poem that idealizes rural life. You know: bucolic meadows, docile cows, sun-drenched fields of hay. 

I suppose it does sound nice... but even we city folk know better, don't we? (If you don't, well, then, Ken Burns' excellent film, Country Music, is waiting. Hard times and rural life go together.)

Perhaps that's why when I tried to write a simple pastoral about the wildlife in my backyard---I had recently seen foxes and falcons, after all---my poem refused to shine with dew.  

Falcon in my yard


Falcons rake the sky at first drumroll of light;
Foxes trot brashly into chill brag of night.

Squirrels scale windows, screen to screen;
Wasps daub bordellos fit for their queen.

Cranes patrol water’s fish-quickened edge;
Crows bully rooftop’s can’t-touch-me ledge.

It is only I who stumbles, by love undone
From rising to the setting of the merciless sun.

Only I who serves no time or place
But when you breathed and where you faced.

Nature knows not how to stop and pray;
It flames to a greatness, day after day.

Thus, your grave is tumbled to its knees
By brambled flowers and roots of trees.

Thus moss fills the slanted letters
Of your name, a raucous bird unfetters

Worms from soil to carry high to nest.
What fallacy to say: Here is Thy Rest

For nothing alive pauses to give guard;
It is only I who finds this stillness hard.

----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

Note:   This sub-genre of the pastoral is known as the pastoral elegy.  It's supposed to be written in the "voice of a shepherd, mourning a friend." I don't know what a shepherd's voice sounds like, so this will have to do. 

Thanks, Rebecca, for the challenge!

My poetry sisters have turned out lovely pastorals, which you may find here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today at Library Matters