Sunday, November 15, 2015

Sea, Wind, Wings

Walking this morning along Highway One in the Asilomar Marine Reserve,
I remembered Robinson Jeffers carving out a life on the shore near here,
and facing his home with the large cobbles from the beach.
The wind was quite strong this morning, after the night's rain.
And many kinds of birds were very active, although these are not the raptors of the poem.


The fierce musical cries of a couple of sparrowhawks hunting on the headland,
Hovering and darting, their heads northwestward,
Prick like silver arrows shot through a curtain the noise of the ocean
Trampling its granite; their red backs gleam
Under my window around the stone corners; nothing gracefuller, nothing
Nimbler in the wind. Westward the wave-gleaners,
The old gray sea-going gulls are gathered together, the northwest wind wakening
Their wings to the wild spirals of the wind-dance.
Fresh as the air, salt as the foam, play birds in the bright wind, fly falcons
Forgetting the oak and the pinewood, come gulls
From the Carmel sands and the sands at the river-mouth, from Lobos and out of the limitless
Power of the mass of the sea, for a poem
Needs multitude, multitudes of thoughts, all fierce, all flesh-eaters, musically clamorous
Bright hawks that hover and dart headlong, and ungainly
Gray hungers fledged with desire of transgression, salt slimed beaks, from the sharp
Rock-shores of the world and the secret waters.
Robinson Jeffers          (1887-1962)

American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume One, 
Library of America, Volume 1, page 660.

So here is a Jeffers poem about the bird life he knew from long observation. The lines are so long that most books have to cut and indent them. Because there us room on the blog page, I have made them the splendid long length I think he intended.  
Your task: write a poem with a lot of nouns, creatures, or things in in and spin out the lines as far as you can. See what this does to the musicality of the poem.

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