Thursday, August 2, 2018

Poetry Friday - Re-visiting A Favorite

            Mary Lee Hahn at A Year of Reading hosts this first Poetry Friday in August. She's sharing a "blitz" poem you must read aloud! It feels rather like a poetic rap, meant to be heard! Thanks, Mary Lee! 
           I know many are beginning their prep for the school year. Summer lingers but cicadas are singing. . . 


        
      I love being outside, am a city dweller so mostly have to appreciate the green space around me, the many parks nearby. When I truly am in the wild, I yearn to stay. This wish goes unfulfilled, the staying, but I'm re-visiting Robert Newton Peck's Bee Tree and Other Stuff, thought I'd share. I started gathering Peck's books a long time ago, was sad when I learned he had passed at the end of May.


 
"Peck ends his introduction with these words: Looking back, I reckon I took a hearty harvest from the earth, as a farmer. As a poet, I share with you this bounty."


      As I grew up spending much of my summers at one set of grandparents on their whole working farm, some of the poems and prose theme touch me again. The book is divided into sections like "Hard Work", "School", "Winter", and "Critters". He writes of the whetstone, the musical sound it makes when sharpening the scythe. He speaks of finding and stealing, yes, stealing, hoards that animals have made, like a stash of acorns from a squirrel and honey from the bees in the long title poem, "Bee Tree". I can't find any of these poems on the internet so I can share part, then give a link. Here are a few lines I loved. I hope you can find the book at your libraries or at a used bookstore, read and savor it as I have.

       Just right for us this new month, Peck opens the section titled "Hay" with words from his father: "There's a mite of sweetness in hay," Papa always said, "like you stored away a wisp of August." 
          In this part, he shares a poem titled "Nest" when upon cutting the hay, a bird flies up to make him go away from her home.

               one verse:
                           "Nesting at my feet, a bird flies up.
                             She scolds me that my work took me so near
                             Her nest, and flies about my ducking head,
                             To beat her irate wings upon my ear."

               the final one:
                             "With a pole I mark her nesting place,
                               Remembering to give it widen berth;
                               So that, with mare and mower, I will spare
                               The little miracle upon my earth."

          It is a memoir, it is nostalgic, and I enjoy hearing from Peck, especially when it is written that so many of his books are based on his life, too. Here is one final verse when he comes across an old barn and writes of what it knew:

                               "I walk across a tired field
                                 To greet an old gray barn.
                                 Empty and alone it stands
                                 To spin a yester yarn."


and the end:           "The rafters now have swallows
                                   Come to build a nest.
                                   The workaday is over.
                                   Rest, old gray barn, rest."


Enjoy your weeks these final ones of summer. Wishing you lots of poetry in them!

29 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing "Bee Tree" with us Linda, I'm going to look for it at the Library! I love the verse you shared about the old barn, and this line, "To spin a yester yarn." That just slides off your tongue so smoothly and conjures up the image–and the last line lovingly tucks the barn in!

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    1. Glad you liked what I shared, Michelle and hope you can find it to see all the rest! Thanks!

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  2. This book looks wonderful, Linda. I especially like these lines from the poem, "Nest":
    "So that, with mare and mower, I will spare
    The little miracle upon my earth."
    It shows so much compassion for the birds who make their home on the farm as well. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It's wonderful to have a peek into a farmer's life. I love that part, too, a favorite. Thanks, Bridget.

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  3. I didn't know he wrote poetry! This definitely sounds like one to savor!

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    1. Yes, it is, Mary Lee, almost seems like he's writing the back story for his books. Thanks!

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  4. Oh, my goodness. Thank you for introducing this poet. That mite of sweet in hay--I know it. And, it is special to August. I love it when I can smell it out in the wild. It's not at all the same in bales at the October fest or the pumpkin markets that spring up in autumn. And those words, "yester yarn" are absolutely perfect. I so love this sharing. Thank you again.

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    1. You're welcome, Linda. It's a lovely book!

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  5. These are tender verses of the old farm, Linda from the great RNP. So many appreciations for sharing these images of a man slowing down to pay tribute to the native dweller of his farm land & for the swallows finding shelter in the barn. It takes me back to stories my dear Father told me of his child days as a farm hand. I hope you continue to enjoy your summer!

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  6. Ah, barns and hay and rafters...this is the world I live in now, and this collection really touches me, Linda. Thank you for sharing!

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  7. Thanks, Tara and Jan. Jan, I guess there are some of us who have these memories that are dearly kept. And Tara, I have thought of you as I read this book again, knowing you'll be making new memories in your new life on the farm.

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  8. Ooh thanks for this new book by Peck.

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    1. You're welcome, Jone. I hope you mean 'new' to you, for it's an old book really. Enjoy!

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  9. Sounds like a beautiful book, Linda. Actually just the title is enough to make me want to own it.

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    1. Perhaps it will wander down under, Sally. I hope so!

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing this gem of a book. I was touched over and over again by the excerpts you shared--that wisp of August stored in hay, the tired field and the old gray barn, the miracle of a nest. I also love your line "summer lingers but cicadas are singing."

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    1. You're welcome, Molly. I think he celebrate the beauty of nature just as you do. Hope you find and enjoy it!

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  11. The scent of hay, and the scent of a horse barn, they came back to me so strongly. I also have given all that up to live a too-urban life. I love my home, but part of me aches for the wild places.

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    1. I rode horses for a long time, a special memory to me, Brenda. Yes, like you, I miss it all. Hope you find Peck's book to enjoy as I have.

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  12. I just checked our catalog and we still have a copy of The Bee Tree. We've had it since 1975 and it has survived the recent ruthless, de-acquisition mania going on here! I'll have to give it another read!

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    1. Terrific, Diane. I did look to see if our library had it, and it does, is in the closed stacks, but available. Yes, books are taken off the shelves often, I know.

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  13. I did not know about The Bee Tree! Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. I so understand that surprise and delight of a bird springing from the grasses. I've been walking our fields scything out wild parsnip and am rewarded with a sparrow or wren or bobolink (gone to their swamp-places now) taking flight from a clump of prairie grass. Exquisite.

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    1. I'm glad you might find and enjoy The Bee Tree, Steve, and love reading of your own wanderings in the fields. They sounds like poems on their way! Thanks!

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  14. Oh, I love these poems, Linda. Peck's words are indeed a bounty! I love this line: "To spin a yester yarn." Our home is built on land that was once part of my great-grandfather's farm. His barns are still next door, and the field across the street is hayed regularly every summer. While I love the smell of fresh-mown hay, I worry about all the "little miracle[s] upon my earth" hiding amongst the grass and clover. I will have to look for this book!

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    1. Wow, I love reading your own connections, Catherine. What a wonderful place you live in. Hope you find the Bee Tree and enjoy it. Yes, those "little miracles" are at risk during haying season. Thanks!

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  15. I've enjoyed Peck's novels, but had no idea he also wrote poetry. Thanks for sharing BEE TREE. It looks wonderful. The stanzas you shared remind me of Wendell Berry's writings with that close connection with the earth and farming.

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    1. Thanks, Kay, I had not thought of Berry's work, but will look for them. Enjoy Bee Tree if you can find it.

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  16. Charming! They sound like spending an afternoon on the porch with a glass of lemonade, watching the birds, and listening to yester yarns.

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