Floods All The Soul With Its Melodius Seas

 

The Ninth Wave
The Ninth Wave by Ivan Alvazovsky

A mind not to be changed by place or time. The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n.

John Milton

Milton

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I pace the sounding sea-beach and behold
      How the voluminous billows roll and run,
      Upheaving and subsiding, while the sun
      Shines through their sheeted emerald far unrolled,
And the ninth wave, slow gathering fold by fold
      All its loose-flowing garments into one,
      Plunges upon the shore, and floods the dun
      Pale reach of sands, and changes them to gold.
So in majestic cadence rise and fall
      The mighty undulations of thy song,
      O sightless bard, England’s Mæonides!
And ever and anon, high over all
      Uplifted, a ninth wave superb and strong,
      Floods all the soul with its melodious seas.

Someone with keen powers of observation counted the waves that come ashore and realized that the ninth wave is the one with the most power and causes the most devastation.  Whether this is based on fact or is a product of sailors and shore dwellers imaginations, the ninth wave has become a metaphor for destruction, either by the power of nature or by the destructive forces of human actions.  Destruction is not an odd theme for artists to illuminate. The saying “worthy of Aivazovsky’s brush”, popularized by Anton Chekhov, is used in Russia for describing something  incredibly beautiful.  I suppose there’s a particular beauty in power beyond our control, even power that causes loss, if we are capable of disconnecting it from the pain of attachment, even the most powerful attachments – love.

Pro tip in interpreting these sonnets.   The line, O sightless bard, England’s Mæonides, is a very wordy way for Longfellow the say that Milton is England’s Homer, the Greek poet Homer sometimes referred to as Mæonides.   In Milton’s sonnet he refers to Latona, which is an alternate name for the Greek Goddess Leto, who conceived Juno and Apollo, a feisty couple of Gods who still battle in our heavens.  I am very fond of Milton’s sonnet below and timely for the lack of leadership that pervades politics and diplomacy here and around the globe.  Men and women everywhere still “bawl for freedom,” but have we the wisdom to manage it when the human condition trends towards selfishness and not a broader democratic approach to safe guarding us from the worst of us, and inspiring us by the best.

Longfellow and Milton both explored the beauty of loss and immortalized it in poetry.  They both experienced loss at the most profound level in their lives and moved forward, resiliency infused into their words, a backbone for their art. Beauty that lacks the fullness of our human experience risks being superficial.  What agony have you endured that had a semblance of beauty?  How does resilience manifest itself in your experience? How does destruction inform your art?


Sonnet 12

by John Milton

I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs
       By the known rules of ancient liberty,
       When straight a barbarous noise environs me
       Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes and dogs:
As when those hinds that were transform’d to frogs
       Rail’d at Latona’s twin-born progeny
       Which after held the sun and moon in fee.
       But this is got by casting pearl to hogs,
That bawl for freedom in their senseless mood,
       And still revolt when truth would set them free.
       Licence they mean when they cry liberty;
For who loves that, must first be wise and good.
       But from that mark how far they rove we see,
       For all this waste of wealth and loss of blood.

To Entertain A Company Of Words

One year
It’s Fourteenlines.blog One Year Anniversary

Life is too important to be taken seriously.

Oscar Wilde

Success
(From The Ladder of St. Augustine)

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, by more and more,
The cloudy summits of our time.

The mighty pyramids of stone
That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
When nearer seen and better known,
Are but gigantic flights of stairs.

The distant mountains, that uprear
Their solid bastions of the skies,
Are crossed by pathways that appear
As we to higher levels rise.

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.


A year ago I sat down and decided to create a blog.  I had been thinking about it for awhile but didn’t know a thing about creating a website or using WordPress. I dove in head first and haven’t looked back. This is my 173 blog post. There have been nearly 6,500 visitors to Fourteenlines this past year. I have shared over 300 poems from 152 different poets with people from over 30 countries around the world.

What have I learned in the past year? Mostly that my appreciation for poetry continues to grow. Writing this blog is a self taught course in English literature. Surprisingly my obsession with sonnets is showing no sign of abating.  A testament to how deep the well of sonnets for exploration. Most importantly, one year into writing this blog I am still having fun!

I have given some thought to my goals with this blog, knowing that my creative pursuits tend to have a beginning, a middle and an end. I am shooting for 1,000 blog posts. At a pace of 3 postings a week this project will carry me onward for another 5 years.

In researching sonnets about writing for this anniversary edition, I came across the fine sonnet by Malcom Guite called Hospitality. I rather like his idea that some words are “shy and rare, unused to company” and must be coaxed out of the darker recesses of writer’s imaginations to take center stage on the starkest of white stages.

To read the entire blog in which the sonnet Hospitality is published click on this link:

https://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/entertaining-words-a-sonnet-about-writing/


Hospitality

by Malcom Guite

I turn a certain key within its wards,
Unlock my doors and set them open wide
To entertain a company of words.
Whilst some come early and with eager stride
Others must be enticed and coaxed a little,
The shy and rare, unused to company,
Who’ll need some time to feel at home and settle.
I bid them welcome all, I make them free
Of all that’s mine, and they are good to me,
I set them in the order they like best
And listen for their wisdom, try to learn
As each unfolds the other’s mystery.
And though we know each word is my free guest,
They sometimes leave a poem in return.

My Eager Heart of Fire

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The Bliss of A Summer Camp-Fire

 

Heed me, feed me, I am hungry, I am red-tongued with desire;
Boughs of balsam, slabs of cedar, gummy fagots of the pine,
Heap them on me, let me hug them to my eager heart of fire,
Roaring, soaring up to heaven as a symbol and a sign……

Excerpt from The Song of the Camp-fire by William Service

Life is good.  Summer life in Minnesota can be extravagant in its simplicity.  Friday night I grilled sweet corn, ate outside on the patio and afterwards enjoyed a summer backyard campfire. We are in that sweet spot of June; the mosquitos are almost non-existent, the fire flies have hatched and highlight the growing darkness and the temperature was cool enough that you could enjoy a bit of heat emanating off the coals.   We toasted marsh-mellows, ate a couple of smores (roasted marshmallows between graham crackers with a bit of a chocolate bar), sipped a glass of red wine and talked through our week, realizing how incredibly lucky we are to be alive.

There is something pleasantly visceral pleasant about watching a fire die down, as the fading light turns to darkness. There is more than just smoke that rises into the evening sky,  as anxiety and stress follow it on its winding path high above the tree tops.  The smell of ash and smoke a reminder of our more primitive selves when fire was the primary source of energy of human endeavors. There are few things as peaceful as a campfire, when there are no responsibilities for a moment, other than to feed a log or two to keep it going and experience the fellowship of life with those that gather with you, in circle, to share its flames.


Sonnet Li

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Not without fire can any workman mould
The iron to his preconceived design,
Nor can the artist without fire refine
And purify from all its dross the gold;
Nor can revive the phoenix, we are told,
Except by fire. Hence if such death be mine
I hope to rise again with the divine,
Whom death augments, and time cannot make old.
O sweet, sweet death! O fortunate fire that burns
Within me still to renovate my days,
Though I am almost numbered with the dead!
If by its nature unto heaven returns
This element, me, kindled in its blaze,
Will it bear upward when my life is fled.