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Lake

To a Blooming Sophora

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Lake

To a Blooming Sophora

 

Revision

 

I have no idea why when raking oak leaves

I smell the scent of sophora flowers

 

and what mysteries the tree bears

in the name of Scholar or Pagoda Tree -

 

Leaves stretch in a teapot, with a taste

of sweet bitterness. Three scholars

 

sitting in the shade. Hours of discussion.

Tea is good for them, especially in the heat.

 

Young fingers strip white flowers from twigs

as afternoon snack before dinner is ready.

 

Its green arms, a bridge between heaven

and earth, gather and raise the children

 

to the top of branches and then lower them

down to the ground when the dusk echoes

 

time to go home. I look for the meanings

and everything becomes meaningful.

 

 

 

Original

 

 

I have no idea when raking oak leaves

I smell the scent of sophora flowers

 

and what mysteries it bears

in the names of Scholar or Pagoda Tree -

 

Leaves stretch in a teapot, with a taste

of sweet bitterness. Three scholars

 

sitting in the shade. Hours of discussion.

Tea is good for them, especially in the heat.

 

Young fingers strip white flowers from twigs

as afternoon snacks before dinner is ready.

 

Its green arms, a bridge between heaven

and earth, gather and raise the children

 

to the top of branches and then lower them

down to the ground when the dusk echoes

 

time to go home. I look for the meanings

and everything becomes meaningful.

 

.

Edited by Lake

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dr_con

to the top of branches and then lower them

down to the ground when the dusk echoes

 

time to go home. I look for the meanings

and everything becomes meaningful.

 

 

Lake as always, your work is rendolent of a certain Buddhist perspective- These last stanzas remind me very much of the first Oxherding pictures- frankly just a beautiful profound piece...

 

Juris


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badger11

Nicely paced Lake, uncluttered, reflective, invites the reader to spend time with the words.

 

badge

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goldenlangur

Hi Lake,

 

 

There's a heavenly delicacy about the imagery and your use of language - meditative and full of allusions to many traditions - the Chinese medicine which uses Sophora to cool in the heat, the allusion to the Chinese/Japanese Pagoda tree, the tea-picking and the age-old tradition of what the Japanese called the Uta - scholars/poets meeting and writing poetry or passages. Of course you may have in mind some other specific event or occasion but this is where you poem took my imagination. :D

 

There's a sense that these trees and the flowers which have literary and traditional association also provide fun and adventure for the children. In its bough children too enter a world of possibilities and imagination.

 

Its green arms, a bridge between heaven

and earth, gather and raise the children

 

to the top of branches and then lower them

down to the ground ...

 

There is in the Zen sense, the sacred or the meaningful everywhere one cares to look :

I look for the meanings

and everything becomes meaningful.

 

Here the poet has a satori moment and opens up the possibility for the reader too to look for beauty and meaning in things around us.

 

Truly beautiful!


goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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waxwings

Nicely introspective and a sweet revelation of your ethno-cultural heritage. Needs an iota of purely grammatical editing. See below. The primary confusion is a lack of matching number (plural/singular) between subject and verb. Of course, your intent may be to convey, in translation, exactly the flavor or some convention in Chinese.

 

To a Blooming Sophora

 

 

I have no idea* when, while raking oak leaves,

I smell the scent of sophora flowers

 

and what mysteries ** they bears

in the names of Scholar or Pagoda Tree -

 

Leaves stretch, from a teapot, with a taste***

of sweet bitterness. Three scholars

 

sitting in the shade. Hours of discussion.

Tea is good for them, especially in the heat.

 

Young fingers strip white flowers from twigs

as afternoon snack/s before dinner is/are ready.

 

Its green arms, a bridge between heaven

and earth, gather and raise the children

 

to the top of branches and then lower them

down to the ground when the dusk echoes

 

time to go home. I look for those meanings,

and everything becomes meaningful.

 

* Is it likely some linking words are missing? In English (and other Indo-European languages) the phrase, 'I have no idea' is usually accompanied by some appropriate qualifying/identifyng (the connection) set of words I can only generalize on , since I donot know what you have, or so it seems, left out, before "when", such as "what to think of", "of what to think", "what it means" or "where it comes from" etc.

** Seems to me that "are borne" is a simpler and more correct (semantically) a way to say what I think you are intending to tell us.

*** I may be misinterpreting if you are talking about "dried, like tea, leaves ... in the bottom of a teapot" rather than the plant "growing out of"/"stretching out from a teapot" that is used as a planter. It would be simpler to say the same by

 

Leaves, with a taste of sweet bitterness

stretch, from a teapot. Three scholars ...

 

All that does not detract from the wonderful poetic feel I get, but any correction(s) you might make will not, can not harm that.

Edited by waxwings

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goldenlangur

Hi Lake again,

 

Just thought re this detail for which WW has suggested a change:

 

Leaves stretch in a teapot

 

This image captures delicately the way tea leaves uncurl and stretch out when these come into contact with boiled water.

 

 

 

 

Leaves stretch from a teapot

 

This suggested reworking gives me no clear image. If one were to be pedantic then how does tea ( a liquid) stretch from a teapot? :unsure:

 

 

Just my thoughts ...


goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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waxwings
Hi Lake again,

 

Just thought re this detail for which WW has suggested a change:

 

Leaves stretch in a teapot

 

This image captures delicately the way tea leaves uncurl and stretch out when these come into contact with boiled water.

 

 

 

 

Leaves stretch from a teapot

 

This suggested reworking gives me no clear image. If one were to be pedantic then how does tea ( a liquid) stretch from a teapot? :unsure:

 

 

Just my thoughts ...

 

The sophora is, as I later ascertained, a small leguminous tree or shrub and, as such might be grown in a teapot. Of course, if its leaves are used for tea, Lake's poem would stand as is, with other exceptions noted. Did you scrutinize my options. And then, your reaction suggests another verb, spread, being more appropriate, which I did not think until your response.

 

I think it is proper for us to comment and counter-comment to help her translate views from her culture into English. That is the general idea why I do not critique/criticize anyone's poem, but see if I can, beyond just mere praise, help others polish their artistry while hoping they will return the favor. Any further thoughts of what I have said are most welcome any time. I do not own a corner of this market, and I have always heeded your comments as far as I can accommodate them.

 

It is for Lake to resolve our suggestions.

Edited by waxwings

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goldenlangur
I think it is proper for us to comment and counter-comment to help her translate viewss from her culture into English.

 

I don't really feel qualified to help Lake translate her views into English as I am very much in the same boat as Lake ( an unintended pun here!) - writing in English which is not my mother tongue.

 

 

It is for Lake to resolve our suggestions.

 

 

Very well put, WW. :D


goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Lake
to the top of branches and then lower them

down to the ground when the dusk echoes

 

time to go home. I look for the meanings

and everything becomes meaningful.

 

 

Lake as always, your work is redolent of a certain Buddhist perspective- These last stanzas remind me very much of the first Oxherding pictures- frankly just a beautiful profound piece...

 

Juris

 

Hi Juris (?),

 

Not quite used to calling this name yet. :)

 

I'm really, really impressed ( shocked) by your mentioning of Oxferding pictures. How much have you studied Zen and Tao? Perhaps, there's a lot I should learn from you.

 

Thank you.

 

Lake

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Lake

Hi Badger,

 

Glad you think it is nicely paced. Appreciate your comments.

 

Lake

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waxwings
I think it is proper for us to comment and counter-comment to help her translate viewss from her culture into English.

 

I don't really feel qualified to help Lake translate her views into English as I am very much in the same boat as Lake ( an unintended pun here!) - writing in English which is not my mother tongue.

 

 

It is for Lake to resolve our suggestions.

 

 

Very well put, WW. :D

 

A wonderful pun, GL. What is your first language? You do English very wel, and I had no suspicion it isnot your first. Mine is Latvian, but I have used several others, and that may make me perhaps overly sensitive to matters of grammar and diction in any language, esp. when it comes to poems. Now I know why, in spite of your good writing, I sometimes have questions re the exactitude of your diction etc. I do that kind of questioning, along my other comments, primarily to learn how to write better English, for I still need and want to be better at it.

 

Do you think it is civil for me to question the English writing of fellow poets who are either known or appear to have English as other than what they grew up with? Or is it none of my damn business.

 

And thanks for not just ignoring my rants. WW

Edited by waxwings

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Lake
Nicely introspective and a sweet revelation of your ethno-cultural heritage. Needs an iota of purely grammatical editing. See below. The primary confusion is a lack of matching number (plural/singular) between subject and verb. Of course, your intent may be to convey, in translation, exactly the flavor or some convention in Chinese.

 

To a Blooming Sophora

 

 

I have no idea* when, while raking oak leaves,

I smell the scent of sophora flowers

 

and what mysteries ** they bears

in the names of Scholar or Pagoda Tree -

 

Leaves stretch, from a teapot, with a taste***

of sweet bitterness. Three scholars

 

sitting in the shade. Hours of discussion.

Tea is good for them, especially in the heat.

 

Young fingers strip white flowers from twigs

as afternoon snack/s before dinner is/are ready.

 

Its green arms, a bridge between heaven

and earth, gather and raise the children

 

to the top of branches and then lower them

down to the ground when the dusk echoes

 

time to go home. I look for those meanings,

and everything becomes meaningful.

 

* Is it likely some linking words are missing? In English (and other Indo-European languages) the phrase, 'I have no idea' is usually accompanied by some appropriate qualifying/identifyng (the connection) set of words I can only generalize on , since I donot know what you have, or so it seems, left out, before "when", such as "what to think of", "of what to think", "what it means" or "where it comes from" etc.

** Seems to me that "are borne" is a simpler and more correct (semantically) a way to say what I think you are intending to tell us.

*** I may be misinterpreting if you are talking about "dried, like tea, leaves ... in the bottom of a teapot" rather than the plant "growing out of"/"stretching out from a teapot" that is used as a planter. It would be simpler to say the same by

 

Leaves, with a taste of sweet bitterness

stretch, from a teapot. Three scholars ...

 

All that does not detract from the wonderful poetic feel I get, but any correction(s) you might make will not, can not harm that.

 

Hi Waxwings,

 

As always, thank you for your scrutinizing my little poem. My use of the English grammar is like my accent of speaking English, once I open my mouth, you'll tell immediately I'm a foreigner. This reminds me of an educator working in our unit, who came from Mexico to the US when he was young and now speaks and writes grammatically correct English. But it is so strange to me, I can still feel he is not a native. Why? Because he speaks and writes too perfectly! :icon_razz:

 

I'm not saying I don't need to pay attention to the grammar, no, I have noticed the ones you pointed out and I'll correct them right away.

 

To answer your first question: in my first draft, it was "I have no idea why when...", but I removed "why" and thought it is still understandable. Will this qualify as poetic license?

 

Question two: "it bears", it refers to the tree. Apparently, it is not clear even though the tree is in the title? "bear" here means "carry". Does it make any sense?

 

Three: "leaves" simply means "tea leaves", it can also mean the tree leaves used as tea leaves. Dried leaves stretch, unfurl, unfold...in the hot water.

 

Haha, now I see it is not a good poem since I have to explain.

 

Many thanks for your detailed comments.

 

Lake

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waxwings
Nicely introspective and a sweet revelation of your ethno-cultural heritage. Needs an iota of purely grammatical editing. See below. The primary confusion is a lack of matching number (plural/singular) between subject and verb. Of course, your intent may be to convey, in translation, exactly the flavor or some convention in Chinese.

 

To a Blooming Sophora

 

 

I have no idea* when, while raking oak leaves,

I smell the scent of sophora flowers

 

and what mysteries ** they bears

in the names of Scholar or Pagoda Tree -

 

Leaves stretch, from a teapot, with a taste***

of sweet bitterness. Three scholars

 

sitting in the shade. Hours of discussion.

Tea is good for them, especially in the heat.

 

Young fingers strip white flowers from twigs

as afternoon snack/s before dinner is/are ready.

 

Its green arms, a bridge between heaven

and earth, gather and raise the children

 

to the top of branches and then lower them

down to the ground when the dusk echoes

 

time to go home. I look for those meanings,

and everything becomes meaningful.

 

* Is it likely some linking words are missing? In English (and other Indo-European languages) the phrase, 'I have no idea' is usually accompanied by some appropriate qualifying/identifyng (the connection) set of words I can only generalize on , since I donot know what you have, or so it seems, left out, before "when", such as "what to think of", "of what to think", "what it means" or "where it comes from" etc.

** Seems to me that "are borne" is a simpler and more correct (semantically) a way to say what I think you are intending to tell us.

*** I may be misinterpreting if you are talking about "dried, like tea, leaves ... in the bottom of a teapot" rather than the plant "growing out of"/"stretching out from a teapot" that is used as a planter. It would be simpler to say the same by

 

Leaves, with a taste of sweet bitterness

stretch, from a teapot. Three scholars ...

 

All that does not detract from the wonderful poetic feel I get, but any correction(s) you might make will not, can not harm that.

 

Hi Waxwings,

 

As always, thank you for your scrutinizing my little poem. My use of the English grammar is like my accent of speaking English, once I open my mouth, you'll tell immediately I'm a foreigner. This reminds me of an educator working in our unit, who came from Mexico to the US when he was young and now speaks and writes grammatically correct English. But it is so strange to me, I can still feel he is not a native. Why? Because he speaks and writes too perfectly! :icon_razz:

 

I'm not saying I don't need to pay attention to the grammar, no, I have noticed the ones you pointed out and I'll correct them right away.

 

Let's clarify. I don't think I accused you of not paying attention to grammar. It is nigh perfect in your messages. But, in a poem, the central message is 'expected' to be condensed to the necessary and sufficient number of words (and the 'right ones' at that) it is very easy to mess up grammatically. Believe me, I know. I have used English for now some 75 years and still do mess up. It is much esier to spot that in something written by another.

 

 

To answer your first question: in my first draft, it was "I have no idea why when...", but I removed "why" and thought it is still understandable. Will this qualify as poetic license?

 

No. Poetic license deals with much more sophisticated notions. Proper syntax (one of the sub-disciplines of 'grammar') in any language helps us to understand what is meant regardless of how complicated the message is. The fragment, "when raking oak leaves" is an interjectory phrase, a fragment having a predicate but no noun to make it a subordinate clause serving to provide an enhancement, i.e., a circumstance of the main clause, in this case is "I have no idea why I smell...."). No poetic reason to omit the "why". The commas are there to tell reader that,where the interjection starts and ends an that the main clause has been interrupted and is to continue.

 

Question two: "it bears", it refers to the tree. Apparently, it is not clear even though the tree is in the title? "bear" here means "carry". Does it make any sense?

 

The way you have constructed the sentence is that 'the flowers bear mysteries and do so in the(ir) name of the Pagoda Tree, which (coincidentally) bears them. Or did you have something else in mind?

 

Three: "leaves" simply means "tea leaves", it can also mean the tree leaves used as tea leaves. Dried leaves stretch, unfurl, unfold...in the hot water.

 

Haha, now I see it is not a good poem since I have to explain.

 

Not true. Look at ways of making small adjustments to mak damn sure that it is the leaves and not the shrub (Pagoda Tree) that are in the teapot. The hint that it is so is in the preceding line. It is the construction/word choice/syntax that does not do the GOOD POEM justice. And I say it is.

 

Many thanks for your detailed comments.

 

Lake

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Lake

Hi Golden,

 

I meant to respond to your comment after I answered WW's questions, but my work was calling on me so I got to leave.

 

Wow, I can only say that you read this poem so very well, you got all the allusions, the Chinese medicine (at a certain time, chewing sophora leaves and flowers even became a fashion), the literati, the adventurous children.

 

Please don't refrain from giving any suggestions to my works. Feel free to say what doesn't work for you just like what you did to my haiku in the past.

 

I appreciate everyone's critics though I may not take in all the suggestions.

 

All the best,

 

Lake

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Lake

Hi again, ww,

 

Thanks for the revisit. I'll think over your words carefully.

The Sophora in my poem is not a small shrub, it is a huge tree. Or it's branches can't support the children.

Its other names such as Scholar tree and Pagoda tree puzzled me, that's where the mysteries come from.

 

Warmly,

 

Lake

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Tinker

Oh Lake, This is so beautiful... I so love this image.

 

Its green arms, a bridge between heaven

and earth, gather and raise the children

 

to the top of branches and then lower them

down to the ground when the dusk echoes

 

time to go home.

 

It has such incredible graceful strength. The couplets you chose to frame your poem with bring focus to your images and it looks clean and clear on the page. I like it.

 

I enjoyed reading this poem. It left me with a contentment and a smile on my face. Thanks.

 

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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waxwings
Hi again, ww,

 

Thanks for the revisit. I'll think over your words carefully.

The Sophora in my poem is not a small shrub, it is a huge tree. Or it's branches can't support the children.

Its other names such as Scholar tree and Pagoda tree puzzled me, that's where the mysteries come from.

 

Warmly,

 

Lake

 

I should have googled Pagoda Tree, rather than sophora, for that is how I got the shrub/small tree (re Vickipedia) idea. I now find that what you meant was sophora Japonica. Perhaps, your reference to tea is not as clear as it should be, but I got that on a hunch, due to those men drinking tea. And then there were the children stripping flowers (and licking their fingers) something that can be done from a bush, and I missed the idea that they were sitting in the tree and assumed the branches lifting the children up into higher branches as somehow metaphoric, not quite real. You might need to see if that is what you wanted the reader to believe.

Edited by waxwings

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tonyv

I, too, love the part Tinker pointed out, Lake. I also like your mention of the three scholars and how Tea is good for them, especially in the heat. The last lines are an epiphany: everything becomes meaningful.

 

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Aleksandra

Very, but very good expressions, Lake. I enjoyed all details and all references to the traditional and symbolical elements in your poem. Everything is so meaningful and very well written. I enjoyed so much this poem.

 

Aleksandra


The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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