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From the Hemlock, One More Bough


David W. Parsley

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David W. Parsley

 

FROM THE HEMLOCK, ONE MORE BOUGH
.
The night he made his decision, no celestial
waves rose to ripple against the moon.
Its pale arms lay cold and folded in the fields,
and the barn owl chose no different route
by which to guide his limping shadow through
.
the dark of trees. He felt among the frozen
clods and boulders no sympathetic heart
to beat against his own, no roots groping
like veins beneath the soil for the unseeable mark
of the thunder. The complexion of the lake was calm
.
like a drowned face out in the weeds. The owl
completed its intricate circuit of trees. Among hills
mists gathered like a brood aware the ripple
must come: subtle slap of a fin in the pool;
snap of a branch in the woods, no other branch moved by its fall.

 

 

Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, 1980

- 2nd place (one of a pair)

L. Paul Roberts Poetry Foundation, 1981

- 3rd place

previously unpublished

© 2012 David W. Parsley

Parsley Poetry Collection

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Wonderful mood piece. I would suggest that it be in one piece. It all fits. I have been isolated in the Maine woods on such a lake and felt such similar thoughts. Such a wonderful place to end one's life. Still, I, like you. would rather write about my experiences and feelings. Sometimes I long to be in a warm cabin then it'd 40 below, wrapped in a thick bag on a bunk and listen to the cold wind. Yes, I'm crazy.

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Well, Dave, this seems to answer the question "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" Of course it does! And since when are the owl and the moon not there to hear it? Enjoyed the mood.

 

... Sometimes I long to be in a warm cabin then it'd 40 below, wrapped in a thick bag on a bunk and listen to the cold wind. Yes, I'm crazy.

Not so crazy. That would be cozy.

 

Tony :smile:

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

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This is excellent: mood, imagery and subtle allusion. The language reminiscent of a golden time (for me:) and de la Mare's “The Listeners.” Most enjoyable. B.

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  • 3 weeks later...
David W. Parsley

Hi Benjamin, thanks again for understanding so well. People who really like this poem most often compare it either to "The Listeners" or one of the poems by Keats, such as "La Belle Dame Sans Merci."

 

If you don't mind, I would like to share a quote here from one of the early advocates of my work, Mrs. Dorothy Roberts Harper, administrator for over two decades of the L. Paul Roberts Poetry Foundation contest named after her husband before his death. She confided to me that she thought this work and Such Country As the Lovers Own, which finished first and third in the 1981 contest, were the two best poems in the history of the foundation. "I find your poem great and sad, tragic and electric, moving and gratifying to me as Art. Write a hundred more like it." Well, that didn't happen, but maybe I can yet justify some measure of her faith in me by producing a few of them. (We all have had our advocates, yes? And they are precious!) Gone from this Earth for over twenty years, I like to hope that she somehow knows.

 

Thanks Again,

- Dave

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I believe in value, not volume. I know many who write reams of prose when one paragraph would say as much. I wish I could find one to write and be satisfied. Of course, that is not the way of writers, who have to write as long as they can take in breath and hold a pen or peck at word processor. To me, the greatest pleasure is to do it and have someone truly say '"This is really good."

This is really good.

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David W. Parsley

Thank you for the high compliment and welcome perspective, Franklin. And I agree with you and Tony there is a delicious privilege to be bundled in a remote cabin leaking cold wind, listening to a world that believes itself still primeval and incorruptible, alive.

 

- Dave

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David W. Parsley

Tony definitely picked up on one of the philosophic threads of the poem. I had only recently (hey I was young) been introduced to the "... if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear..." concept and it did influence the composition's setting, mood, and metaphor. I had also been close to more than one suicide by that time and was struck by the sense of irreversibility and isolation, a world in full gear and not missing a beat. Curiously there was a certain affinity for Auden's Musee des Beax Arts at work in the poem, too.

 

Perceptive if Whimsical,

- Dave

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David W. Parsley

Prosody Alert! (read no further if discussion of poetry theory drives you mad)

 

I appreciate Barry's salute to the poem's lyrical qualities and Franklin's suggestion to make it all of a whole, rather than distinct stanzas. The truth is that the poem was composed as a loose adaptation of a known fixed form, the ababb cinquain, using iambic pentameter. I clearly mixed in a bit of Hopkinsesque sprung rhythm and freely used slant rhyme and assonance. These liberties were taken largely to achieve a subtlety of sound while retaining the benefits of structure. The poem ends with an Alexandrine, my first successful use of the device. The judge for the contest (who was anonymous) lauded the poem's "form, both the inner and the outer symmetry." I was delighted, of course.

 

- Dave

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