Anyway... so today in my poetry class we were discussing Emily Dickinson. I WILL REFRAIN from excessively fangirling over Emily Dickinson. The point is that we discussed her by having each of us pick a theme, image, or motif, and then finding three poems of her with that motif and seeing how she employed it in all of them. It was really cool. I picked insects, for example. Other people picked beauty, death, dust, flowers, bees, and more. By doing this, we got an interesting insight into her poetry. I'm too tired to give a good literary explanation, but sure, "interesting" should be sufficient.
I'm not saying I'm anywhere as good as Emily Dickinson. But I thought it would be a fun blog post to pick a motif from my poems and track it over the years. So, not quite the same, because you'll mainly see how I progressed as a poet over the years, and the motif I'm picking is more of a subject matter for the entire poem, but... whatever. It's fun.
(NOTE: No matter what I do, the formatting/spacing here is awful. I try to fix it and Blogger simply ignores me and pushes the spacing back to the way it was. So... Ariel's War with Google rages on. Sorry about that.)
I love the rain, so I decided to look for one poem from every year I've been writing poetry that is about rain. I don't have anything about rain from seventh or eighth grade (at least, nothing that I can find easily on this laptop), so let's start with ninth grade.
And it rained.
Against the grey sky
and the impossibly scorched landscape
Longing, for ever too long
To be quenched of its thirst
A drizzle at first
Though it could not be seen
The earth reached for the sky
Which had opened again at last
For the long-awaited day
Had finally arrived.
Oh, never had rain been this way
And the ground broke through with flower
And perhaps the flower
was not of the same variety as the
Rose, or the daisy
But rain makes the most beautiful flower
From the stem
For the beauty
Is in the rain
The rain, which never knew
Of the flower arising from the earth
Until that day
When it ran from the sky once more
So... yeah. This poem uses rain as a very heavy-handed metaphor for, like, someone falling in love again, or receiving inspiration, or whatever. It's not very specific on that front. You can also tell that I thought that poetry needed to have super long and flowery sentences that sound like a ninth-grader trying to imitate Shakespeare. (Gee, I wonder why it sounds like that). My ninth-grade self, the pseudo-intellectual, is pretty evident here.
Let's move on to my tenth-grade self. The depressing emo year.
Give Me Rain
Passionate, flying, wildly dancing raindrops
Is electricity pulsing through my soul
violet, copper-colored night air
Crackling with lightning and thunder
And dancing to the raindrops
Trees, tossing their heads wildly
Can’t they have one last dance
Before they’re cut down
To make room for
Suburban lawns and strip malls
God, give me rain
Give me wind
Give me stormclouds
I long for the nights where I lay awake
Eyes wide open
To dance with raindrops
I want to fall asleep
To the lullaby of softly pattering rain
And drizzling, dripping drops
And wake to a haze of muted green and blue
Sidewalks with worms scattered
Like the pieces of my soul
and my hair
and the leaves on the trees
Before they are all packed
neatly back into their
One last dance
Give me one last rainstorm
Give me rain
This one is pretty intense. It's also way better than the first one. There's more than a year's worth of poetry-writing between them (the first one comes from the beginning of ninth grade, and this one is from near the end of tenth grade). I was angry and passionate in tenth grade- almost all of my poems were about some sort of rebellion. So it makes sense that my love for rain manifested in a poem about a thunderstorm.
Eleventh grade brought more changes...
Like a ragtag group of musicians
on an afternoon city street.
Rush the silver needles,
like piano notes,
to the green pines,
and then an overabundance of spring-scented air
as the molecules
and from the fertile earth we grow.
Inside of us is a dazzling spectrum
of colored light,
but to the eyes, you can only see our green music.
And we all sing, sing, sing
with the spring rain.
Everything is alive,
from the sky to the earth,
from the leaves to the air,
from my heart to my mind,
from my pen to your eyes.
Snap, snap, snap,
neatly break all your insecurities in two,
into a million pieces,
you can't destroy matter but you can hydrolyze it enough
until it's made up of rearrangeable atom-letters
and you're healed.
Soft song at its end,
whisper drops of water to me,
slowly dripping, drinking raindrops,
as I wait for the sunlight to find me again,
and to tentatively sing on my own.
Eleventh grade was the year I took AP Bio, and became fascinated again with the natural world. The first stanza hints at being from the point of view of plants. Then I refer to a human type of healing. I struggle with remembering junior year. It was a year of healing for me, but not permanent healing. I thought I had "hydrolyzed" whatever was wrong with me, but it snapped back together like molecules do. Still, it was a year in which I wrote many powerful poems, referencing science, and here I finally use rain as a metaphor for rebirth. It's a good poem, but I wish I could trim it down. I wanted to present the poems with all their flaws, though.
Senior year was a bit different. I wrote much less poetry, since I was no longer writing a poem every single day, like I did in junior year. I did write this poem about rain:
Nothing is hidden from the late April rain,
come silvering down from the bright white sky,
layers of light and water.
Soft sound, it falls like cloth,
like gentle thoughts on the edge of the walls,
bringing the dream to drift away from you
like a shadow.
The sky opens up like a portal
to all the April rains of ever.
Because April wears a dress made of memories,
all falling off in a cascade of water before she goes to sleep.
On the shiny grey school roof,
like it's been falling in my heart forever.
Hanging as crystals, almost snow, on the end of a pine branch,
in the courtyard,
suspended like this day of rain
soon to fall and dissolve into forgotten-ness.
And April's trusting
as she shakes the flowers out of her hari,
gathers your heartsongs in her breast,
sings like a little bird who rejoices at the rain.
April paints this day for you,
waits, this day, for you,
hair tangled with rain like your bejeweled insect-screens.
She sings softly, whispers her secrets to you,
brings you into the first spring you ever remembered,
and the next and the next forevermore.
April rains and watches my joy and my sorrow.
White sky, thin silver rain, a light like the music
of dreams' wings as they wait on the windowsill.
Everyone's waiting on the windowsill.
I'm waiting on the windowsill, looking through the sheen and the curtain,
into a room with a radiator all lit up with my happiness,
even as the rain washes away everything left of it.
Into the street who sang and danced outside the classroom window.
Into the rising earthly air, coming from the crocuses in the forest,
soft and slow and colored with hope,
later again to die and be washed away.
Into whatever first April rain anchored itself to my skin,
so forever I would wish to return to it.
April trusting. Rain to trust in. Water falling,
like the tears of goodbye,
bringing everything right to me, both the laughter and the pain,
and the water just to wash it all away.
One thing I really like about reading my own poetry is that I know the story behind each poem. I remember when, where, and why I wrote each of the poems above: a windy afternoon in ninth grade, thinking of how returning to school made me feel; a violent stormy night in tenth grade, angry at the world; sitting in statistics class in eleventh grade and listening to the rain; and this one, sitting in my bedroom, remembering the entire day of rain. This poem has a lot of beautiful lines and intricate ideas, but it's not something another person could read (sorry for making you guys suffer, haha). It's a snapshot of a time in my life. I refer to this in the poem, talking about the ephemeral nature of time, how it slips away. And yet with each of these poems that I read, time feels less linear and more fluid, like I can move back and forth, travel on a train of words.
The last poem here is from freshman year of college, last year. I wrote it for my class, Eco Poetry, for a project on the seasons. It's been featured on this blog before.
Up into the leaves,
where snap- snap- snap,
you break each molecule in two.
Snap, snap, snap,
I rainout in the parking lot.
More like fire
in the woods,
on the old dead leaves.
What a thing to hear
when you come out of dormancy,
the pouring of clouds,
for you to take.
After the frozen, freezing turmoil,
to see me liquid again-
how do you trust all winterthat I will return?
This poem is not a little snapshot of my life. I learned to stop squeezing my poems full of my own turmoil. While turmoil and your own emotions and individuality are essential for poetry, poetry needs to also be relatable to others, if you want anyone else to read it. In this poem, I consider rain as what it is: a natural phenomenon. But I'm not emotionally detached from it. My connection to rain is still here, yet I also consider the connections of the rest of the earth to rain. And as such, the poem is shorter, easier to read, flows better.
So, there you have it. I hope this wasn't too difficult to read, considering all my lengthy sentences and phrases from high school poems. I thought it was an interesting exercise. If you're a writer, I recommend doing this with your own work.
Thanks for reading,