Friday, December 17, 2010

Poetry Friday: Willa Cather's O Pioneers!

The entrance to the novel welcomes you with this poem by Cather:

Prairie Spring

Evening and the flat land,
Rich and sombre and always silent;
The miles of fresh-plowed soil,
Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;
The growing wheat, the growing weeds,
The toiling horses, the tired men;
The long empty roads,
Sullen fires of sunset, fading,
The eternal, unresponsive sky.
Against all this, Youth,
Flaming like the wild roses,
Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,
Flashing like a star out of the twilight;
Youth with its insupportable sweetness,
Its fierce necessity,
Its sharp desire,
Singing and singing,
Out of the lips of silence,
Out of the earthy dusk.

and then, exquisitely, rolls into this --

"One January day, thirty years ago, the little town of Hanover, anchored on a windy Nebraska tableland, was trying not to be blown away. A mist of fine snowflakes was curling and eddying about the cluster of low drab buildings huddled on the gray prairie, under a gray sky. The dwelling-houses were set about haphazard on the tough prairie sod; some of them looked as if they had been moved in overnight, and others as if they were straying off by themselves, headed straight for the open plain. None of them had any appearance of permanence, and the howling wind blew under them as well as over them.”

You can read more about Willa Cather, and efforts to restore the prairie here at The Willa Cather Foundation.

Over at 100 Scope Notes, Travis Jonkers, along with fellow school librarian John Schumacher, have announced their top twenty children's books for 2010. As they guys say, 

"The list contains books for the Kindergarten through sixth grade reader, but other than that, anything goes. You’ll see picture books mingling with graphic novels and chapter books elbowing nonfiction. Five titles a day, presented in countdown fashion". Check it out here at 100 Scope Notes.

So much good stuff from Travis at his site. I especially like his project to redesign all the unfortunately-covered Newbery Winners. You'll find the explanation and examples here at Covering the Newbery.

Fittingly enough, Amy over at the Poem Farm is hosting Poetry Friday today. Grab a milking stool or hay bale and set a spell.


Amy L V said...

"Youth with its insupportable sweetness..."
Sigh. Such strong words from the land here. And thank you too for your link to 100 Scope Notes. I have a feeling I'll be, um, spending some time and money after I'm finished over there! Happy Poetry Friday! A.

Ruth said...

Thank you for this! Cather's poetry and her prose are both wonderful.

Tara said...

One of my favorite writers - she can sketch a landscape so precisely, so hauntingly. Thank you for the links as well - so much to discover!

Carlie said...

"Flaming like the wild roses" is lovely. As a kid I remember my dad reading aloud some book about pioneers going west and starting over, in maybe, bugs me periodically because I have no idea what book is stuck in my mind. I need to remember to ask him. I was kind of thinking this book might be a candidate but maybe not if it's set in Nebraska.

Andrea Murphy said...

I really enjoyed today's post, Janet. Thanks!