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Original Poem: "A Book of Frost" with Commentary

Updated on July 27, 2019
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, & Mr. Malcolm Sedam's creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my interest.

Moonlight and Frost

Source

Introduction and Text of "A Book of Frost"

My poem, "A Book of Frost," features postmodernist vagueness while zeroing in on the specificity that jump starts the incredulity of the postmodernist mind confused by its own clarity. If lies become truth with repetition, then repetition becomes the enemy of clarity, despite the animosity that will always prevail in the hater for the hated.

This poem is dedicated to a daughter, who despises poetry, and who insists she could not understand poetry. Despite remaining an avid reader her entire life, and now serving as a middle school librarian, her preferred reading material has always been prose, and luckily for her chosen profession, she never needs bother to engage ideas above the level of grade 8. She, of course, not alone; the field of public education cannot tolerate in depth scrutiny and critical thinking. Without the ability to think critically and deeply, poetry remains a locked door to those blanks minds.

But then, lot of people do not “understand” poetry. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, that does not keep poets from writing the stuff.

A Book of Frost

for my daughter, sweet girl that she is . . .

Each winter sprite has walked the air a slave
To circumstances she once deemed her joy.
New rime that lined the stillness of her cave
Fetched folded hands of time to hold her buoy.

If sudden gales mount rushing at her back
Forcing chills that numb her mind to stone,
She will tame and temper every track
And feel the fasting marrow of the bone.

With pains she strains aloof becoming strong
Yet slowly limns the glad road down to time
Where never any being can belong
Without a pardon for an unknown crime.

Now she is slogging unbowed through the storm
To fling the book of frost to light and form.

Commentary

"A Book of Frost," from my collection of poems titled Turtle Woman and Other Poems, is an Elizabethan (Shakespearean or English) sonnet.

First Quatrain: Life's Vicissitudes

Each winter sprite has walked the air a slave
To circumstances she once deemed her joy.
New rime that lined the stillness of her cave
Fetched folded hands of time to hold her buoy.

The speaker is an individual experienced in life’s vicissitudes who is addressing an individual much less so, that is, one with such naiveté as to expect the material world to give her all her heart and soul desires.

It may be unfortunate that parents are not perfect, and equally unfortunate that children also are not perfect. Living together in some semblance of peace is all that can be hoped for in the busy world of Maya delusion. Passing on precepts will, however, always exist on this cold planet, even if prayer seems passé.

Regarding the unusual spelling, "rime": The spelling, "rhyme," was introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson through an etymological error. For my explanation for using only the original form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error."

Second Quatrain: Victims of the Mainstream

If sudden gales mount rushing at her back
Forcing chills that numb her mind to stone,
She will tame and temper every track
And feel the fasting marrow of the bone.

Somewhat rudderless, clueless victims of mainstream pollution will gather their politics into a faulty grip on reality, as their inconsistencies prevent their ability to fathom and spring forward because that’s the way the world rolls, man. It is funny yet admirable how the worst of the worst still contribute, still offer plenty of balm in time of sorrow, still deserve love and attention—although less of the latter is better.

People in fine leather coats cannot see the same skin of the cow, especially while fine dining on filet mignon. But the weather will continue to fluctuate over the horizon of distrust, and leaky, breathless hagiography will implode the wicked as soon as evil bends over the branch on which the bird of swooping memory begins to croon.

Third Quatrain: The Language of Non-Striving

With pains she strains aloof becoming strong
Yet slowly limns the glad road down to time
Where never any being can belong
Without a pardon for an unknown crime.

All the unknown crimes of the world may land on one's doorstep, but who will imagine that the dusty past will cause a sweetness and beauty to blow past them? The speaker has left that admonition to the Divine Essence because she has finally discovered the futility of language among the crowd who are not striving for enlightenment.

Guilt may play out on the stage of superficiality as clumps of sins choke the breath out of lesser evils. While mystic leaves may flutter in the breeze of brazen desires, the true wish will gather its bunch of roses and make off like a bandit in the parlance of clichés.

Couplet: The Big Dog of Karma

Now she is slogging unbowed through the storm
To fling the book of frost to light and form.

The speaker is probably being overly optimistic in the couplet. Even Shakespeare often allowed his desire for closure to blind him to the fact that not every story can end happily. Not every book can end with an “a ha” love and roses moment. No every poem can even end with a couplet. As any sonnet ends its drama, this one seems to simply stop. Maybe a repeat reading will offer some clue to true nature of cold that can both freeze and burn.

Be gentle and kind to the older generation, younger generation, and they will be gentle and kind to you. Hate them for all they could not give you, and you might find your keister being bitten by the big dog of Karma.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

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  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    4 years ago from U.S.A.

    Thank you, John. I never think of my work as promoting poetry, just perhaps uncovering it. I'll have to have a look at your Hub. Thanks for letting me know about it.

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 

    4 years ago from Queensland Australia

    Nice Sonnet, Linda. Your attempt to promote poetry is admirable. I have written a few poems aimed at people who say they don't like poetry, and trying to promote it's value. My latest hub "Alas Poor Jodah, I Knew Him.."

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