Archive / November, 2013

Working At Play

In yesterday’s post, I included a lighthearted sonnet about the sonnet form. The title of that post was Playing With Words. As I continue to post more of my poetry on this blog, I think it will be quite plain that I do, indeed, play with words. It is my incurable affliction!

For this poem, I’ve taken liberty with the usual sonnet form, changing its visual aspect slightly and using an unconventional rhyming pattern. A purist might argue with me as to whether it’s a sonnet or not. I’m going to be stubborn and insist it is.

Athletic-Prowess, athletics, writing, athletic prowess, sports, hockey, baseball, sonnet, poetry, light verse

Sonnet: Athletic Prowess

For the person who is passionate, even work can be play (as it is for me when I write).

We spent our Thanksgiving Day with one of our daughters and her family. As we were sitting at the table, I asked my grandsons (ages 8 and 6) to name some things for which they were thankful. Without even pausing for a moment to wonder what my expectation might be for an answer to the question, the older one said, “Electronics.”

That’s fervor. This straightforward answer came from a boy whose “play” is to study objects around the house and ascertain (1) how they work and (2) whether or not these objects are functioning properly. This is serious play for him. He’s learning about his world and figuring how each part fits. He is amazing, often amusing, and occasionally aggravating − and I’m not even his mother!

As my grandson ponders electronics to understand more about them, he isn’t working; he’s playing with intensity and purpose. Many boys his age don’t care a lick about electronics, but my grandson? There’s no question where his interest lies.

Though electronics doesn’t make my top-ten list, I can appreciate my grandson’s singleminded focus. Were I to require help with an electronic component, I suspect he’s the guy who would come to my aid.

I can return the favor … if ever he needs me to write a sonnet for him.

Playing With Words

It’s Black Friday. This isn’t something in which I participate. I don’t remember ever volunteering to subject myself to that kind of chaos!

I’ve also never camped out in order to be the first to buy tickets, attend a concert, etc.

(Oh, and by the way, I never cared for the Schwarzenegger film Jingle All The Way where he’s waiting for the doors to open so he can run a mad dash to snatch up the last Turbo Man action figure before they’re all sold out. Just the thought of that scene being played out in real life makes me cringe.)64690775_640

I get jazzed though when I’m playing with words. I don’t have to jockey with an unruly crowd or find a parking spot or arrive early before the stacks have been picked over. My play goes on wherever I am, whenever I choose to engage my brain in play.

In previous posts (here, here), I’ve talked about my goal to write one hundred sonnets. This is a form I find challenging and when I’ve completed one, there’s a high level of satisfaction.

Today’s sonnet doesn’t offer belly laughs or profound wisdom. It is informal and perhaps prosaic. But this is word play for me. In a universe where it’s possible to have a nine-season television show about nothing (Seinfeld), this is a sonnet about the sonnet form.

Poetic-Hermetic, sonnet, poesy, sonnet form, iambic pentameter, sestet, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Spenser, little sound, poem

Sonnet: Poetic Hermetic

Lines of Succession, Part 5

Having recently completed a series of posts (first one here) on the Chronicles of Narnia, a fairy tale series for children, I thought I’d return to my personal writing archives for a fairy tale of my own. (It’s easy to figure out fairy tales are a genre I love.) The story is broken up into five parts. (To read from the beginning, start here.) Here’s the final part below.

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Conversation at table between the Crown Prince and the King became sparse, punctuated by lengthy silences. The only news worth noting seemed to be the progress reports on the development of the dubious future princess. The Crown Prince’s enthusiasm mounted as he observed the plain creature transforming into the young woman of his dreams. But a strange, magical spell had befallen the heir to the throne, which although not at first apparent to himself heightened the King’s concern, for the Prince represented the King’s only line of succession.

The bewitchment was a complicated one, seeming to depend entirely on the Prince’s words and occupations. For instance, on the evening when he announced to the King that his betrothed had developed fingers nimble enough to play the most difficult of piano selections, the Crown Prince’s own hands were suddenly beset by a painful, thickening arthritic condition. When he taught her to dance with the lightness of a day-old fawn, his feet instantly transformed into clumsy, stone-like objects, incapable of further movement. Hard as it was to transport his enormous hulk, the servants were forced to carry him to and from his quarters. Continue Reading →

Lines of Succession, Part 4

Having recently completed a series of posts (first one here) on the Chronicles of Narnia, a fairy tale series for children, I thought I’d return to my personal writing archives for a fairy tale of my own. (It’s easy to figure out fairy tales are a genre I love.) The story is broken up into five parts. (To read from the beginning, start here.) Here’s the fourth part below.

Sleeping-Beauty-fairy-tales-and-fables-2392572-456-600

The Prince continued, “I was surprised you would not allow the Divorcement Decree. When you told me to remember my wedding vows, I thought, in your own wise way, you must be offering clues to solve the problem myself. So I did as you suggested. I fairly took the vows apart. It wasn’t until last night that I realized the brilliance of it. I thank you for your ingenious insight. I only hope someday to be as wise a king as you have proven to be.” The Prince expressed genuine admiration. In fact, he had become so fully absorbed in thanking his father, he had temporarily neglected to refill his mouth. He went back at it hurriedly.

“I don’t understand. Please explain.”

Chewing another mouthful, the Prince mumbled, “It was that last clause, Sir. The statement that reads, ‘Until death do us part.’ Suddenly, it made perfect sense. Why suffer the pain of divorcement when it’s avoidable, right?” he sniffed, distastefully. “So last night while she slept, I slit her throat.” He revealed no hint of emotion as he bit into a piece of chocolate cake. Continue Reading →

Lines of Succession, Part 3

Having recently completed a series of posts (first one here) on the Chronicles of Narnia, a fairy tale series for children, I thought I’d return to my personal writing archives for a fairy tale of my own. (It’s easy to figure out fairy tales are a genre I love.) The story is broken up into five parts. (To read from the beginning, start here.) Here’s the third part below.

Sleeping-Beauty-fairy-tales-and-fables-2392572-456-600

Having the charming Princess back at table pleased the King exceedingly. He failed to see in her smiling face and sunny disposition any of the faults that glared so belligerently at the Crown Prince. Those days, the King appreciated Advent’s feminine companionship more than ever, for his own bride of many years, the Queen, had succumbed to fever and died. As in the early days when he had first met Princess Advent, the King could still sense the devotion that his daughter-in-law maintained for her husband. It made him even more utterly furious with his heir than he realized he could be. How could the younger man be so blind?

The King discovered he was unwillingly falling in love with the young woman. Whenever he saw her, he invariably smelled lilacs. He could study her face for hours, savoring her delicate, sensual beauty. Her eyes were like lilacs, a soft, violet-blue. Her lips were the shade of a velvet rose. Continue Reading →

Lines of Succession, Part 2

Having recently completed a series of posts (first one here) on the Chronicles of Narnia, a fairy tale series for children, I thought I’d return to my personal writing archives for a fairy tale of my own. (It’s easy to figure out fairy tales are a genre I love.) The story is broken up into five parts. (To read from the beginning, start here.) Here’s the second part below.

Sleeping-Beauty-fairy-tales-and-fables-2392572-456-600

 After the newlyweds returned from their honeymoon trip, the King requested their presence and they dined nightly in the royal quarters. With just the four of them, the setting was more intimate than on official state occasions. They took their meals at a small square wood-carved table. The King sat across from his son with the queen at his right and Princess Advent on his left. One evening as he handed a platter of fresh vegetables to the younger woman, the King inquired, “Am I correct in recalling you prefer the green tomatoes over the red?”

Advent nodded. “I’m partial to most things green, Highness.” She took the dish, shrugging her shoulders in feigned self-deprecation. It was common knowledge the palace decorators had painted her bedroom a lively shade of mint green. Continue Reading →

Lines of Succession, Part 1

Having recently completed a series of posts (first one here) on the Chronicles of Narnia, a fairy tale series for children, I thought I’d return to my personal writing archives for a fairy tale of my own. (It’s easy to figure out fairy tales are a genre I love.) The story will be broken up into five parts. Here’s the first part below.

Sleeping-Beauty-fairy-tales-and-fables-2392572-456-600

A prince customarily has his own way about things. Therefore, when the Crown Prince of the land, a young man reared in palace splendor and gifted with the talents and magnificent physical features from a thousand generations of royal descent, came to his father the King with a request, the King was disposed to fulfill it, even though he was not convinced his son had made the best or most timely choice.

“I have found her, Father, the woman who pleases me more than any other in the kingdom. Her beauty is without equal, her intellect is superb, and she is devoted to me as the Queen is to you, Sir.” The Prince’s eyes glowed with the light of awakening love. Although the two men were dining together, the Prince showed scant appetite for the delicacies on his princely plate. His only thought was for the woman whose smiling countenance played vivaciously in his thoughts. Continue Reading →

Carpe Diem

For something a bit different today, I chose a slightly whimsical sonnet, one written a number of years ago … when I was much younger!

My-Prime-Meridian, aging, middle age, sonnet, poem, light verse

Sonnet: My Prime Meridian

It’s funny how as one gets older, the bar of “old age” automatically moves a few more years out from one’s present age. At least, that’s the way I think about it.

I’m part of that Baby-Boomer generation that latched onto a throw-away phrase attached to the so-called “free speech movement.” They said:  don’t trust anyone over 30. (This wasn’t my philosophy, but the ideology seemed to resonate with people around me.) Today, baby boomers are wa-a-a-a-a-a-y over 30 — by double or more! And I find it interesting to observe how the “free speech movement” remains mostly silent and invisible in the face of government-mandated  “speech codes” having been adopted on many college campuses.

But I digress

When I think of aging, I don’t actually suffer from cowardice (as the poem suggests). Rather, I’m usually inspired by my intrepid mother (now 87 years old). She lost much of her freedom when she voluntarily gave up driving. Her vision is minimal and her hearing has diminished yet she maintains an optimistic, buoyant spirit. Were I to look up the definition of contentment in a dictionary, I would suspect her picture is prominently displayed on the page.

With Mom as my role model, aging doesn’t bother me. I don’t expect to achieve Biblical status (Genesis 5:27 says Methuselah lived 969 years) but I like what Proverbs 16:31 says:

A gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness.

Forward to contentment!

Coming Home At Last

eng_LB_1st_amerFifty years ago today (November 22, 1963) C. S. Lewis died. In the week leading up to this anniversary, I’ve written a series of posts related to what I consider (if I may be permitted to characterize seven volumes as a single work) his magnum opus, the inimitable Chronicles of NarniaIn these seven posts, I have commemorated his life and work.

The final volume in Lewis’s stories for children, The Last Battle, begins in the land of Narnia with two characters. The first one Lewis introduces is Shift, an ape who disavows his species, insisting instead:  “I’m a Man.”

Shift’s “friend” (who was “more like Shift’s servant”) is a dull but well-meaning donkey named Puzzle. The author’s choice in naming these two characters portends the ominous shift occurring in Narnia itself, a shift that confounds (puzzles) true Narnians. Continue Reading →

The Lion Sings

eng_MN_1st_amerTypically, writers disclose tidbits of information about themselves in everything they write. In The Magician’s Nephew, sixth volume in the Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis provides some of the most poignant clues about his life. He draws on his early life as the basis for the book’s main character, a boy named Digory Kirke.

Some resources use the term prequel to set this book apart from the first-published volume in the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I think backstory is a better term, denoting a narrative history that illuminates the story presented in volume one. As a literary device, backstory isn’t required if a reader chooses to read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as a stand-alone tale. In itself, it’s complete. However, the backstory provided in The Magician’s Nephew enhances one’s appreciation of Narnia by addressing unanswered questions that crop up after reading the first volume.

[Yes, the dictionary.com entry uses prequel as one definition for backstory, but I consider prequel unsatisfactory in this instance. My opinion.]

The action in The Magician’s Nephew begins in London about 1900. The setting and time are familiar to C. S. Lewis (who was born in Belfast in 1898). The lonely child Digory is not unlike Shasta (in The Horse and His Boy). Digory bemoans his current awful circumstances − being displaced from country to city, being brought to live in the “beastly Hole” of London, and worst of all, bereft of his father (who’s in India) and desperately afraid his mother is dying. Digory would agree with Shasta:  “I am the unluckiest person in the whole world.” (Yesterday’s post here.)1010861-_3

Don’t get me wrong. I can understand that children sometimes feel the weight of the world on their shoulders; uncertainty related to one’s parents must surely create unbearable angst at a time when children are least able to understand and manage it. My mother was only six when her daddy died, and like C. S. Lewis, she was packed off to boarding school six weeks later. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for her, but I believe it built into her a depth of character and courage that marks her life today. Continue Reading →

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