Friday, July 6, 2012

Poetry Friday--Tiny Poems

As a haiku poet, I'm a big fan of tiny poems. I love Valerie Worth's collection of poems titled, All the Small Poems and Fourteen More, I always participate in Laura Salas's 15 Words or Less Poems weekly challenge, and, I'm a big advocate of the "less is more" school of writing.

I never realized that tiny poems were not readily available or accepted 40 years ago, but I guess that was the case. I found this out when I purchased a used copy of The Sea and the Honeycomb: A Book of Tiny Poems, edited by Robert Bly (Beacon Press, 1971), when I was looking for older collections of haiku. I particularly enjoyed reading Bly's introduction, "Dropping the Reader," in which he states,
...the American poet sitting at his desk writes a fine, intense poem of seven or eight lines, than a hand silently appears from somewhere inside his shirt and hastily adds fifteen more lines, telling us what the emotion means, relating it to philosophy, and adding a few moral comments. The invisible scholar is outraged at the idea of anyone writing a brief poem, because he is hardly able to get his chalky hand out of his cloak before the poem is over!
Ha! I've had to resist that invisible scholar myself! She's a tough nut to crack, but I keep trying. (For an example, today, over at Random Noodling, I have an original poem that I really had to work hard at, to not provide additional explanations for the reader! I hope I was successful.)

Bly says, a little later,
In the brief poem, it is all different: the poet takes the reader to the edge of a cliff, as a mother eagle takes its nestling, and then drops him. Readers with a strong imagination enjoy it, and discover they can fly. The others fall down to the rocks where they are killed instantly.
Yowsa! That's harsh! Let's see if you can fly with these non-haiku samples from The Sea and the Honeycomb:
And Suddenly It's Evening
by Salvatore Quasimodo (translated by Robert Bly)

Everyone is alone at the heart of the earth
pierced by a ray of sunlight:
and suddenly it's evening.

by Antonio Machado (translated by Robert Bly)

It is good knowing that glasses
are to drink from;
the bad thing is not to know
what thirst is for.

The Runner
by Walt Whitman

On a flat road runs the well-train'd runner,
He is lean and sinewy with muscular legs,
He is thinly clothed, he leans forward as he runs,
With lightly closed fists and arms partially rais'd.

Earth Hard
by David Ignatow

Earth hard to my heels
bear me up like a child
standing on its mother's belly.
I am a surprised guest to the air.

Meetings of Those in Love
by Ibn Hazm (translated by Robert Bly)

The meeting that has to be secret reaches
an intensity that the open meeting cannot reach.
It is a delight that is mixed with danger
like walking on a road over moving sandhills!

Well, did you survive the fall? I sure hope you did!

It's time now to head over to see Tabatha Yeatts for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.



I'm Jet . . . said...

Hey, I'm up here flying over those cliffs! Ha!!!

Loved Quasimodo's the best, because lately I've been totally smitten with sunsets (and sunrises).

Excellent Ekphrastic poem over at Noodlin', too, D.

Today, I'm all about the less is more school of writing, too. Less writing. More housework. :-(

Robyn Hood Black said...

I'm flapping! I'm flapping! You know I love these. Thanks for sharing these small gems from your new (old) treasure.

Mary Lee said...

I'm still alive! And amazed that Whitman wrote a short poem!!

Diane Mayr said...

Yes, actually Whitman wrote quite a few! Of course, he also tended to overwrite a wee bit, too! Two years ago I did a little whittling of Whitman. It's here if you're interested. I thought it was a fun exercise.