Sunday, 19 September 2010

My love is like a big, big tree... more Poetry Bus adventures

So the challenge for the Poetry Bus this week...

To write a poem that can be read at a wedding

I have to admit my heart sank when I read this prompt. I am not a wedding person at all... I've never been married, never wanted to be... and whilst I can enjoy other people's weddings and be happy if they're happy... weddings just don't really interest me very much. I'm a love person not a marriage person... though I will concede that you probably can be both.

Anyway, after grumping for a while I remembered that I've actually had quite a lot to do with wedding poetry. First off I was commissioned to write a poem for a wedding a few years ago (quite tricky as I didn't even know the couple). I wrote about it here and it all worked out well (sorry, can't publish poem – it was a private commission). Then I had two poems of mine chosen to be read at weddings last year - one was chosen by a friend (she picked 'Diving' – it's on one of my postcards) and one was chosen by a complete stranger (she chose 'Don't squeeze my shoes' and I wrote about that and the poem is here). Then I also remembered that the very first poem I ever read out in public was one about weddings - it's called “A wedding poem (not to be read at weddings)” and it's in my book (p.27) and on my website (under 'poems', under 'occasions'). It's kind of silly (with a serious undertone)... but people often seem to like it. Some people have even said they want it read at their wedding (though I don't know if anyone would ever go ahead with's a bit rude about brides).

So, that's it, I thought, I don't need to write anything new this week - I'll post the 'not to be read at weddings' one and that will do fine. And then I thought a bit about love... and what I might (in theory) write for Mark if we were ever getting married (no plans). I have written him a few love poems already but firstly you can never have too many and secondly after a little while I came up with something new so you may as well have it too! I haven't written a sonnet in ages... and in fact this one even ended up being a two-parter. I know people who write in traditional forms like this usually put in proper, thorough punctuation but it just doesn't work for me in poems (I did put in some full stops and then had to take them all out again – they just looked nasty). Also I know it's fairly unfashionable to use lines the way I do in serious poetry... but I like to really BREAK on a line-break (it just feels right to me). I pause, I breathe, sometimes I even go outside for a cigarette (no, that can't be right... I don't smoke...). Anyhow, I do it my way...(audio version here).

For the love of trees


For love the clich├ęs roll - here are some samples
You are my rock, my light, my rose, my heart
But prisons can be built with such examples
And prison can't be where we want to start
If love is really everything we paint it
Then words must flock to match that perfect hue
We should beware for moons and stars can taint it
So I must look with care for words for you
I look at you and listen to your sound voice
I wonder what it is that makes you right
I'm grateful that, just once, I made a good choice
I thank my lucky stars, and moons, each night
And more than rock for me you are my tree
I can't think of a better thing to be


Like rowan you have colour, reach and daring
Like oak you have a strength that I adore
Like sycamore you're very good at sharing
Like silver birch you leave me wanting more
A forest tall of love is what you've grown me
Each branch I grasp, each leaf I try to learn
A simple style of love is what you've shown me
Though tough it is a love that takes a turn
Who ever knows if anything is evergreen?
Who wants to worry endlessly like me?
A name is all a weeping willow's ever been
A willow doesn't weep - it is a tree
And I may cry a tear for you some day
But until then fast to your bough I'll stay

RF 2010



Liz said...

Truly lovely, reminded me of something I needed reminding of, just right now.

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks, Liz, straight back to you. Over the seas!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Wow, considering you're not into weddings that's a lot of wedding orientated poetry!I've never written one, not even when I got married.In fact I didn't even write a speech! (Big mistake actually)

But this sonnet is afine thing I love the truth in it, it feels real.I like the tree analogy, it works really well.The first bit as an introduction(though I did find the second moon/stars contradicary,but I might be misunderstanding, and it's your poem not mine, I only mention that as I realy like this poem)and the second bit as a tour de force that could be a stand alone poem.

Rachel Fox said...

Most of the poems I mention in the intro weren't written with weddings in mind (just love) but obviously some people who are in love do get married (and one or two want to use my poems when they do... it's very flattering).

As for the sonnets... I wrote the first one on about Wednesday and then it was only a day or so later that I felt it needed a second part. I do think each one could stand alone though. The second moon & stars (in the first part) is kind of alluding to how hard it is to keep from cliches when you get onto love, I suppose. And also I do just do it (thank them)... I do feel very lucky in this part of my life. I changed the stars mentions a few times...quite a few times!


The Solitary Walker said...

That rhythm kept reminding me of Kipling's 'If'..! Not that that's a bad thing.

Beautifully touching, Rachel, and very clever. Rather Christine Rossetti-ish, too.

Oh, to hell with the comparisons... I liked it!

Argent said...

This is a supremely erll-crafted poem. The language is so simple but it really works for me.

Rachel Fox said...

Forgot to say TFE, the moon/rock thing is another reason the moon gets a second look-in.

Thanks SW and Argent - clever and simple... I kind of like that pairing.


martine said...

Dear Rachel, that is so beautiful and captures the sentiment of devotion and commitment without any reference to the dreaded institution
much love

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Martine. Think we're kindred spirits on this one!

hope said...

I love the fact you read this one to me...before I even went back to read the words. Sometimes it's nice to hear the intonations where the poet meant, instead of where the reader sometimes puts them.

Well done...and I love the tree analogy. Deep roots bring safety to love. :)

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely sonnet! I've left a message on Facebook re the tree species

Rachel Fox said...

I would read them all aloud, Hope, but it requires that tree-man of mine to be around to put them online for me...some feminist, I know. I can do some tech stuff but not as much as him!

Thanks CGP. We don't have a nature expert in this house - all beginners.


Titus said...

Wow, Rachel, I like it when you sonnet. Knocked out by the first eight lines of the first, the tree motif in the second works beautifully and this line;
"Who ever knows if anything is evergreen?"
is just so brilliant and brilliantly placed.
A good, good, goody.

I also realised, when reading the explantion-y bit, that I find it virtually impossible to write a love poem. Closest I've ever got is the one about the prehistoric rock. Hmmm...

Niamh B said...

Brilliant Rachel, completely fresh and lovely.
I'd be impressed if people read that at a wedding

Rachel Fox said...

I blame the wimple, T. Go on...write that man a love poem!

Thanks Niamh. And it's out there now..someone can use it if they want to.


A Cuban In London said...

It's hard to believe that you're not a wedding person after reading this gem of a poem. :-) But I dig you.

I was away in Wales and just been back for the last two weeks or so. Missed your poetry, by the way.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Rachel Fox said...

Hi Cuban
I have more anti-wedding poems than wedding ones I think! There's an old one here about keeping love free, for a start. But really as long as it's a person's own choice I'm fine with it...marriage has so often not been about that though!

My main problem with this poem was avoiding double entendres (wood, trunk etc...). I might have to write a parody version too ('i grasp your wood' etc.).


The Bug said...

I really like this too - I think my favorite part was the very end about how weeping willows don't really weep - & you're not weeping just yet either. Sometimes it really does feel like I'm clinging to a bough just to make it through the day!

Rachel Fox said...

The willow bit is my favourite part too. And of course when read aloud the bough can be a boat's bow too which I like (and it feels appropriate at times).

Dr. Jeanne Iris said...

Lovely, Rachel. The circularity of this clearly and lyrically illustrates the evolution of love.

Rachel Fox said...

Thank-you Jeanne. I never use 'lyrical' to describe poems...perhaps because I expect them all to be like that...or hope they all will be. It's an idle fantasy...

Rachel Fox said...

But thanks for it! Just sparked off a thought that's all...

Peter Goulding said...

There's a timelessness about these two sonnets that is truly remarkable. I am in awe. Wish I'd written them.

Rachel Fox said...

Oh Peter, you say the nicest things... some people would say 'deeply unfashionable' but you say 'timeless'!
That was a lovely comment to read first thing in the morning.

Lydia said...

I think this is wonderful. I love trees so much and the way you worked them into a love poem is special.

Rachel Fox said...

Thank-you Lydia. Lovely comment.

Erratic Thoughts said...

You said it right.
This sounds so genuine and I almost felt that it's for your wedding:)
Love in your poem shows the depth of your personality:)
Keep writing you do it splendidly:)

Rachel Fox said...

Thank-you ET. You make an obscure poet very happy indeed!

NanU said...

Lovely, Rachel. Weddings cry out for poems, and if I ever have another I hope to write something like this for it.

Rachel Fox said...

You sound like you're between weddings...

Helen said...

Rachel, I love this ... especially the second stanza and your tree talk!

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Helen. I am a big fan of the trees!

Enchanted Oak said...

Rachel, for somebody who really doesn't do "till death do us part" poems, you did fine. Gooey love stuff, by this point in our lives, has morphed into reality love, the eyes-wide-open kind of contract instead of the throbbing heart. I couldn't find a single poem suitable for reading at a wedding (although there is a hot little item about my husband whacking chicken in the kitchen). Like you I had to write something new.

And I appreciate you, your comments and your experience that you leave bits of on my blog. Thank you

Rachel Fox said...

You're welcome.