'Raw Nature': Response to Genna East's Poetry Challenge + Surviving Hardships & Animal/Human Empathy

The Pack

Gibbon Wolf Pack, By Doug Smith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Gibbon Wolf Pack, By Doug Smith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

The Challenge

In http://gennaeast.hubpages.com/hub/Of-the-Shadow-and-the-Gray-A-Poetry-Challenge, Genna has come up with an unusual gem of a challenge. We are asked to watch two video clips, with a linking theme, then do as follows:

‘Write a poem about elements within both videos that capture your imagination. You may use any style of poetry -- Haiku, rhyme, free verse or prose -- whatever you wish. This is a blank canvass with which you can create words and imagery from wherever this visual journey takes you. The only caveat is that the poem cannot exceed eighty words in length.’

The clips are taken from ‘The Grey’ and ‘The Shadow’, neither of which I have seen before, both of which portray man versus wolves. The setting for both is an expanse of forest under deep snow, where survival would not be possible for long without shelter and warmth.


Initial Response

Excited at the prospect of tackling something different, something more challenging, I wondered in which direction I should flex my writing muscles. There was so much visual impact, so many images to blast the senses. I went with what caught my imagination most.

What gripped me were the close-ups of face and eyes, prompting one to wonder what was going on behind the outward stare, behind the fear, the despair, the aggression, of both men and beasts. What was in their thoughts? Where would their instincts take them? What would we do in conflict, with man or beast?

I considered the basic instinct of fight or flight as well as the similarities of animal and man; instinctive fear, concern, protection, survival - and understanding.

You will find my poem beneath the wolf.


Calculating Observation

What goes on behind that expression?
What goes on behind that expression? | Source

Raw Nature

Callous crystal hostility, frozen fronds of frailty, last life of lingering souls.

Intricate knot of minds and hearts, woven in a mutual dilemma.

Inevitability of impending death, whether reflex of fight or flight;

A lone choice.


Fight for one more staggered step; fight for benefit of the pack;

Fight for warmth, for loved ones far; fight for souls’ empathic link.

One would choose the grey of death.

One would choose shadow, warmth and breath.

Survival.


(77 words incl title)


Bleak & Frozen; Dangerous & Deadly

Could you survive in those forests or up in those mountains?
Could you survive in those forests or up in those mountains? | Source
Could you survive the perils of war?
Could you survive the perils of war?
What happened to these men?
What happened to these men?

Survival

How many of you know how to survive in such situations? I’m talking serious survival for days, maybe months or even years.

We can learn survival techniques. We can take all the necessary paraphernalia. The question is, “Do we have the mental strength to carry us through?”

It takes ingenuity, physical fitness, experience and a strength of character that many of us do not have. I’d like to think that I’d be able to keep myself going but I don’t know for sure. How do we know what our response would be?


Think about it

Could you withstand extreme hardship, lack of food, hostile elements, possible sickness, probable injury, let alone further assaults by the hand of fate?

The answer is, you don’t really know unless you’ve been there.

So how would you prepare? You would research every angle. You would test and improve your physical fitness in the gym and outdoors. You would put yourself through mental agility tests. You would even attempt to acclimatise your mind and body to the extremes of deprivation of sleep, deprivation of comfort, deprivation of food and total lack of warmth.


Unprepared

That’s when you’re actively putting yourself in a situation where those skills and strengths might be needed.

What if you have to face something without all that preparation? What then?

Have you survived a challenging moment? I’d like to know about it if you’d like to share it in the comments.

If you haven’t, I’d like to know what you think you would do should that happen to you.

What are your thoughts about instincts kicking in and our bodies withstanding such events?


Sisters Suki & Sheba, my Protective Pets

Suki the Mischievous
Suki the Mischievous | Source
Sheba the Sovereign
Sheba the Sovereign | Source

Animals' Empathy

The wolves in the clips were seen as, on the one hand, hostile and out for the kill and, on the other hand, seemingly predatory but having some instinct to protect or perhaps possessing the spirit of a loved one, sent to help.

Many of us have been protected by our own pets. My two dogs reacted to someone who knocked at the door, a complete stranger to me. I was on my own, I didn’t like the look of him and I was afraid. Did they pick up on that or did they recognise a threat?

They did something I’d never seen them do before or since; both barred their teeth, their hackles rose and they barked and growled until I shut the door, muttering for a while afterwards and keeping an ear pinned for returning footsteps.


Is it more than instinct?

Were they protecting me because they could feel my ‘vibes’? Or did they sense something about this person, something they didn’t care for, some evil in the air? I don’t know. What I do know is that they were normally friendly, welcoming animals to those they knew and those they’d never encountered before. I’m sure they would have welcomed a burglar with tails a-wag.

I’ve often heard about the sixth sense animals are said to possess. Is that true? What do you think? Have you had first-hand experience of animals exhibiting such ‘ability’?


Protection for a Stranger?

Would that same animal show the same concern for a stranger, would they protect that person if s/he were in danger?

Would a wild animal do the same? I don’t know. I’ve never witnessed such things. Have you? If so, perhaps you could share your experience in the comments.


Elephants have Emotions

Mother protecting Baby
Mother protecting Baby

My Personal Thoughts

I believe that there is some emotional connection between humans and wild animals. If we connect with our pets why shouldn’t there be some empathy between us and the wild?

Instinct and survival are uppermost in the animal kingdom but they do nurture, protect and provide; they do show emotion. Much of it is to do with survival, I know, but what about the elephants who mourn the death of one of the herd? What about the crows who hold a wake (see Shyron E Shenko’s hub, http://shyroneshenko.hubpages.com/hub/The-Crow-Convention-with-One-Left-in-the-Wake-Poem)?


Amateurs or Experts

Whether you’re an expert on animal behaviour or an amateur who has experience of any kind relating to this subject, I’d love to hear about your knowledge and your views.


Copyright annart/AFC 2015

Survival

Have you survived.....

  • severe weather?
  • an accident of any sort?
  • a terrorist attack?
  • an attack by a human?
  • an attack by an animal?
  • a serious disease?
  • personal isolation?
  • combat conditions?
See results without voting

Animal Reactions

Have you experience of

  • an animal showing emotion?
  • an animal protecting you?
  • an animal saving you?
  • an uncharacteristic reaction from your pet?
  • other (please specify in the comments)
See results without voting

More by this Author


Comments 30 comments

annart profile image

annart 10 months ago from SW England Author

Kim: Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad you liked this; 'exquisite' makes me blush! I enjoyed writing this and the inspiration of Genna's prompt got me galloping along the road of ideas, so much so that two hubs came from it. Animals and humans have many lines of communication which I find fascinating. It's a shame we don't use our abilities more often, human to human too!

I appreciate your visit and support; good to see you today and Happy New Year to you!

Ann


ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 10 months ago from North Carolina

Ann,

You pack so much into few words. Your response to Genna's challenge is exquisite. And, I like so many others relate to the importance of the relationship with our furry friends.

Blessings,

Kim


annart profile image

annart 13 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Mary. I do believe even wild animals can show humans compassion in certain circumstances. Survival is what drives us all and I suppose it's not always kill for a cure.

Thanks for the visit; very pleased to see you on this Sunday, Mary.

Ann


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 13 months ago from New York

You've taken this challenge to another level by adding your thoughts about animals. I believe animals will empathize with us in the right situations. It is hard to expect a starving animal to be our friend, but it is possible. Animals of all kinds reflect the love and compassion we show them.

Touching poem my friend.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Shyron, for your kind words and your great input. Your grandparents must have been wonderful.

Yes, I've read your 'Last Hoedown'; that must have been awful for you, let alone being attacked by 3 women. I can't understand how people can do such things.

Animals give us so many emotions, don't they, and sometimes amazing protection and support.

I was hoping you'd read this and see the link for which you're very welcome; I loved that hub of yours about the crows. Such things never cease to amaze.

Thanks for the visit today, Shyron.

Ann


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 14 months ago

Ann, wonderful response to Genna’s Challenge. Thank you for the link to my Crow Convention. Survival, no Ann I would not survive the cold or snow. I and my brothers did live with my grandparents and everything was grown and my grandmother canned food for the winter and we had cows, chicken and pigs. It was not easy but I did not know it at the time.

Yes, I survived an accident; an almost attach by a pedophile (The Last Hoedown) and another time I was attacked without reason or provocation by 3 women when I was a little girl.

Experienced animal emotion, yes (Trixie, a Basenji with a heart of gold.)


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

snakeslane: Thank you so much for your kind comment and for the compliments. I'm glad you enjoyed this and I'm flattered you saw it on so many levels. I had so much whirling round in my head that I had to 'get it all out'! I've responded with a prose hub based on the videos too.

Thanks for the visit and support.

Ann


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 14 months ago from Canada

Ann, I'm amazed at how thoroughly you dissected Genna's poetry challenge into a kaleidoscope of themes inherent in the film clips we were asked to write about. But first and foremost your poetry is beautifully imagistic and deeply philosophical at the same time, love it! As for the rest of it, all your questions regarding our relationships with the wild and the wilderness are so apropos for this challenge and for the times we live in. Excellent work. A pleasure to read, and possibly respond to at some point as the questions you present are so varied my brain was literally swamped with 'animal' stories I had heard, seen and/or experienced. You sure know how to press those buttons! I enjoyed your pets pictures and personal anecdotes, we have a bond with our pets that's quite uncanny.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Vellur: Thank you for your kind words. I agree with you; an animal's response is honest too and forever loyal if you treat them well. I much appreciate your visit.

Ann


Vellur profile image

Vellur 14 months ago from Dubai

I feel there is a definite connection between us humans and animals -pets or wild animals. We care for them and they do definitely care for us. A wonderful response! Enjoyed reading.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Ruby. What a shame you're allergic to pets. Although I'd love one again, we're away too often and it's not fair on them to be left with someone else (or on the person they're left with!).

Glad you liked this one.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Dora. Your comments are always appreciated. Glad you like it.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Genna, for your lovely words. I've written a response in your own hub but I'd like to thank you again for making us stretch our writing boundaries. It's great being on this site amongst a family of writers who enjoy their craft so much.

You might like my prose off-shoot too!

Hope your weekend is proving to be a good one.

Ann


always exploring profile image

always exploring 14 months ago from Southern Illinois

Your poetry is beautiful! I would love to have a pet but I'm allergic to pet dander, so I love them from afar. Great hub.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 14 months ago from The Caribbean

Thanks for sharing your interpretation and application. The verses contain some impressive phrases.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 14 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Ann -- your poem is outstanding. Thank you for participating in this challenge, and for bringing forth a new dimension. You captured so much of what both videos convey; and the questions both men pose, and the challenges they face, in those moments before the fall -- lost in the land of "snow dreamers," so to speak. Kudos, my friend. And I enjoyed reading your perspectives about our relationship with nature and the wild. I believe that nature is an integral part of who we are, as are the animals of the wild, in many ways.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Mike: What a brilliant comment! I'm still laughing. Childhood and senior citizen syndrome never occurred to me - priceless! Thanks for the lovely comment re the poem; much appreciated.

Ann


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 14 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Ann. What a nice contribution to the challenge. Your poetry is strong and vital. I can't adequately answer all of the questions presented. I did survive childhood, the U.S. Army but it is not looking so good for senior citizen syndrome. Well, that is the short biography.

You put so much into this.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Paula, for such lovely words. I'm so pleased to read such a comment from you. I find animals give comfort to so many and loyalty to all who look after them.

Peace to you also.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Patricia, for your kind words regarding my poem. I'm glad you liked it. Thanks also for responding to the question; I understand completely that you don't want to go into detail but what you did say said a lot on its own. I'm glad there was some positive outcome. Thank you.

Angels were looking after you, no doubt.

Ann


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 14 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Ann.....You have taken this challenge to a beautiful place. Your creativity and sense of compassion shines through every word. Thank you for giving your readers such inspiration.....

Animals and animal lovers greatly appreciate your heart...Peace, Paula


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 14 months ago from sunny Florida

Yes, I have but do not wish to elaborate here. It changed me...no doubt, for the better. And while I would not wish to repeat it, I find myself being thankful that I faced down the challenge and came out on the other side. You had me when I first felt this part of your writing..."Callous crystal hostility, frozen fronds of frailty, last life of lingering souls."

Shared g+ tweeted pinned

Angels are headed your way this morning ps


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Oh, Theresa, you're so kind; thanks for the lovely words. Once I'd written the poem, I thought I'd saved it and hadn't so I had to wrack my brains to get the words back! I think most of them are the same. Talk about panic! Then of course I didn't have enough word count so thought the rest would fit into the theme; it kind of snowballed by itself!

Your words have put a smile on my face that will last all day, Theresa!

Hope you have a smashing weekend with your wonderful family. Looking forward to getting back to mine next week.

Hugs,

Ann


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, John, for your 'terrific' comment. Sorry to hear you'd been attacked, especially as you were defending someone. Good for you! At least you have the war wounds to prove it and to tell the story. How about a hub on that then; poem, fiction or fact?

Hope your weekend is great and full of inspiration, John.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

R.Q.: Thanks for your great comment and input. Yes, animal behaviour could teach us, but then I suppose they don't have this thing called free will that complicates it all when it's thrown into the mix.

Sadly, my two lovely dogs are long gone but they provided companionship, solace, protection and entertainment for many years.

Hope your weekend is wonderful.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, bill. No apologies necessary. I published late last night and then went to bed so I wouldn't have noticed anyway!

Animals never cease to amaze me. The other thing is that people seem to respond better to an animal's plight than they do to a human's; what does that tell us?!

Hope your weekend is spectacular too, bill.

Ann


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 14 months ago from southern USA

Ah, Ann, I love how you really thought about what was going through the minds of the two men and the wolves too! Well, that thought process of yours certainly resulted in a most brilliant poem!

Plus, your added insight into survival and your keen insight into the subject adds much interest to the overall hub. You always take it to the next level, and that is why I love reading what you write.

I am thrilled you participated in this fascinating challenge, as you have surpassed it in your unique Ann style.

Peace and blessings

Sharing everywhere


Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

This is a terrific response to Genna's challenge Ann. Love your poem, but the informative hub itself that invites people's responses on s urvival situations was a great idea too. I have had dogs react out of character with certain people and always trust their senses. I have never found them to be wrong. I have been attacked by a person one else in my own back yard when I ran to the aid of a woman being pursued by her ex. He was high on speed and I ended up being punched in the face, but survived..now have a permanent dimple in one cheek that wasn't there before :)


Romeos Quill profile image

Romeos Quill 14 months ago from Lincolnshire, England

A great response to Genna's challenge Ann with some thought-provoking poetry to capture the ambiance of those videos; the photo pics of your beasts Suki and Sheba are smashing as well.

There's no doubt that the relationship between man/woman and his or her incisored furball, or indeed any domesticated animal is pretty special, whether it be a working partnership or just one of the sheer pleasure of companionship, and can sure teach us a thing or too about being a better human being.

Thanks for a marvellous read;

R.Q.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 14 months ago from Olympia, WA

I'm so far behind in my reading due to the trip to Seattle. Sorry I'm so late....as for animals and empathy, I think anyone who knows me knows how I feel about animals. If humans showed as much empathy and compassion as animals do, we would all be better off.

Wonderful article my friend, and I wish you a spectacular weekend.

bill

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