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The "Weedy" Pretties


A. Baez
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Who are we who cannot love a “weed”—

A burst of glory absent from our books,

Cheerfully settling unclaimed sweeps and nooks

And spreading—quite unbidden—vigorous seed?

Who are we who cannot love a “weed”?

We “edit” plants but excise ones we need:

The improv genius in our landscapes’ scenes

Bests browns of mulch with blossom-tones and greens

And asks not even thank-you’s for the deed!

Who are we who cannot love a “weed”?

Spring picks no villains from among its flowers;

Nature is liberal in the grace it dowers

Every child of hers, wild thing and breed!

“Fine gardeners’ ” admonishments mislead;

They’d keep a peony, though it looks a fright

By summer—trim and tend it as one might—

Yet wrest wild aster, with its effortless grace

From its self-appointed place

Where floral primadonnas would recede.

Who are we who cannot love a “weed”?

It earns its rightful space, let’s just concede,

So why not measure virtues and not names?

Our unbred lovelies have their own sweet games

Of fragrance, form, and habit, too. I’d plead

“Behold the soul in each” must be our creed—

This way, we’ll see the treasure in the “weed”!

 

 

 

 

 

Original

 

 

Who are we who cannot love a “weed”—

A burst of glory absent from our books,

Cheerfully settling unclaimed sweeps and nooks

And spreading—quite unbidden—vigorous seed?

Who are we who cannot love a “weed”?

We “edit” plants but excise ones we need:

The improv genius in our landscapes’ scenes

Bests browns of mulch with blossom-tones and greens

And asks not even thank-you’s for the deed!

Who are we who cannot love a “weed”?

Spring can't pick villains from among its flowers;

Nature is liberal in the grace it dowers

Every child of hers, wild thing and breed!

The gardeners' admonishments mislead:

Some keep a peony, though it looks a fright

By summer—trim and tend it as one might—

Yet wrest wild aster, with its effortless grace

From its self-appointed place

Where floral primadonnas would recede.

Who are we who cannot love a “weed”?

It earns its space, true plantsmen must concede,

So let us measure virtues and not names,

For unbred lovelies have their own sweet games

Of fragrance, form, and habit, too. I'd plead

Objective quality should be our creed—

This way, we’ll see the prized plant in the weed!

 

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I don't mind weeds. What some people consider to be weeds e.g. daisies and dandelions to me are flowers. Copied/pasted from the wikipedia entry for weed:

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A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, "a plant in the wrong place". Examples commonly are plants unwanted in human-controlled settings, such as farm fields, gardens, lawns, and parks. Taxonomically, the term "weed" has no botanical significance, because a plant that is a weed in one context is not a weed when growing in a situation where it is in fact wanted, and where one species of plant is a valuable crop plant, another species in the same genus might be a serious weed, such as a wild bramble growing among cultivated loganberries. In the same way, volunteer crops (plants) are regarded as weeds in a subsequent crop. Many plants that people widely regard as weeds also are intentionally grown in gardens and other cultivated settings, in which case they are sometimes called beneficial weeds. The term weed also is applied to any plant that grows or reproduces aggressively, or is invasive outside its native habitat.

I think the message of the poem is precisely what it says in this definition, except it's crafted into a poem.

It's my understanding that weed is a term like vegetable. While tomatoes and eggplants are culinary vegetables, botanically they are berries. But I am a mere layman, you are the professional gardener. 

Tony 🌼🌷🌱🌿🌻🌵

 

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

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I think the message of the poem is precisely what it says in this definition, except it's crafted into a poem.

Thanks! I'm trying to bridge the gap between science and art!

Alas, I find that, unlike you, the average person conceives of "weed" as a strict category, one of which all members must be dogmatically eliminated from cultivated landscapes, as if by the royal decree of the land. That drives me mad. I sometimes ask my clients, "If your garden bed looks better with it, why remove it?" Such clients may have cultivated plants that not only look bad, but take over more aggressively than most "weeds." Since when did illogic become so institutionalized?

In addition to providing potential aesthetic gains, "weeds," especially native ones, increase flora/fauna biodiversity and enhance soil health, usually not "competing" for nutrients with garden plants as some claim. What's more, edible "weeds" are typically more nutritious than garden crops and vastly more nutritious than the produce we can buy in stores.

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It's my understanding that weed is a term like vegetable. While tomatoes and eggplants are culinary vegetables, botanically they are berries.

Sort of, except that "weed" is an even vaguer term; it doesn't have the dual-category definitions that "vegetable" does. It's also more pejorative (though "vegetable," when applied to a human, is, as well!).

I dig all your emoticons! Did you catch the "rose by any other name" allusion at the end? 🥀

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@Tinker This is based on the Neoteric Classic form but extended with another "verse" of six lines. It felt to me like the "weeds" needed more space to spread out!

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26 minutes ago, A. Baez said:

Did you catch the "rose by any other name" allusion at the end?

I didn't, and I should have. Even so, I often come back to re-read poems in topics where I've already replied and might have caught it on a subsequent visit. Even so, thanks for pointing it out. It deepens enjoyment/understanding/appreciation of the art -- like taking in a guided tour at the museum.

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The allusion's a bit subtle; I don't really blame you for not getting it.

I would be happy to hear your technical thoughts, if you ever have time to reread and comment! However, I know you've been a bit snowed lately. 🌨️

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1 hour ago, A. Baez said:

Oh, I thought you didn't like guided art tours!

I like and appreciate them. I took the tour when I was at the Dali Museum in FL. 😉

 

1 hour ago, A. Baez said:

The allusion's a bit subtle...

I would be happy to hear your technical thoughts, if you have time to reread.

Yes, it is subtle, but the erudite should pick up on it. Though not a bonafide analogy, I would suggest that lines 21-26 serve very well a point I often make: A poem enjoyed on a digital display is just as good as the same poem viewed in print on the pages of a book. Keats' "Bright Star" is the same, perfect work of art viewed online that it is on the page of a physical book.

I'll leave the rhyme scheme for others to discover. I barely take note of that in my own poems. 

1. In L1-L4 I question whether commas would be more appropriate than em-dashes. I think they would.

2. Now, upon taking a closer look, I'm thinking I would like to see you do away all the quotation marks everywhere, throughout the poem. The discerning reader gets it.

3. The em-dashes work in L16.

4. I would replace the em-dashes in L22 & L25 with full stops.

I will try to return with some more thoughts. Anyplace in particular you would like me to focus?

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

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I like and appreciate them. I took the tour when I was at the Dali Museum in FL. 😉

I figured (and removed my comment about this before your reply posted but apparently while you were writing it--this happens to us a lot!!). There's a rather fine distinction, it seems, between having art interpreted externally, and having the artwork itself "explain itself" too much, which you had said before quite pointedly that you didn't like.

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A poem enjoyed on a digital display is just as good as the same poem viewed in print on the pages of a book.

Of course, but I'd argue that the experience of it is different, just as it would be when reading it in one typeface or another, or in one city or another, or in one mood or another.

Quote

1. In L1-L4 I question whether commas would be more appropriate than em-dashes. I think they would.

It seems that would make for altogether too many commas! Also, the first em dash makes it clear that the following phrase inside commas is not the second item of a list (the first being "weed"), but a descriptor of "weed." In L4, I'd actually tried commas in lieu of em dashes but found the result unsatisfactory because there is quite a gap in the meaning's flow between what comes before the dashes and what comes after. The em dash is designed to help the reader cope with that kind of logical disjointment. In addition, commas here could create confusion by suggesting that "unbidden" and "vigorous" may both be intended as descriptors of "seed."

Quote

2. Now, upon taking a closer look, I'm thinking I would like to see you do away all the quotation marks everywhere, throughout the poem. The discerning reader gets it.

That I had considered. I just hate calling the subject such a pejorative term; when I think about it, it's like using the "n" word! One word sorely needed in the English language is something non-derogatory to signify "wild plant." Would you leave the quotes around "edit"?

Quote

4. I would replace the em-dashes in L22 & L25 with full stops.

Hmm. Let me mull/try this awhile--along with the "weed" quotes. [light sigh]

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I will try to return with some more thoughts. Anyplace in particular you would like me to focus?

Thank you! It pays to ask! 🙂 Noplace in particular; I'm just interested in spontaneous reactions--whatever jumps out at the reader, for good or ill. 🙂 

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AB,   Sorry, I bit off more than I could chew and went into a kind of hibernation in my isolation.  You'd think shelter in place would mean boring with time on my hands but it has been just the opposite so far for me and this last week I couldn't do more than take care of business, doing those things I absolutely had to get done and shut down everything else.  I still haven't set up the new form in the Reference section and haven't read your latest poem or anyone's for that matter.  Hopefully I'll be in a better position to just read and enjoy very shortly, but I saw you tagged me and came here to let you know, I am still around and haven't commented because of my self inflicted paralysis.  

~~Judi

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~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Take your time, Judi! I didn't tag you with the expectation of immediate response, and I was aware that you've been deeply absorbed in other things lately. For the amount of time you typically spend on all your poetic pursuits, I'm not at all surprised that other areas of your life need some catching up on right now! I sure know the feeling of needing to block everything else out to get a big and complicated list of things done. I'd been doing that for several weeks recently myself and have only just begun to emerge and say "hi" to my friends again! Take care and hope all goes well. ☺️

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17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

There's a rather fine distinction, it seems, between having art interpreted externally, and having the artwork itself "explain itself" too much, which you had said before quite pointedly that you didn't like.

But I don't mind if someone who knows more about the art explains the art to me. 😉 I figured that out when I took the guided tour. There was much I would have missed if I hadn't done that.

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Of course, but I'd argue that the experience of it is different, just as it would be when reading it in one typeface or another, or in one city or another, or in one mood or another.

I agree. The experience would be different, but the poem itself would not be better on one media or the other. (So long as the meter isn't flawed. :tongue:)

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

It seems that would make for altogether too many commas! Also, the first em dash makes it clear that the following phrase inside commas is not the second item of a list (the first being "weed"), but a descriptor of "weed." In L4, I'd actually tried commas in lieu of em dashes but found the result unsatisfactory because there is quite a gap in the meaning's flow between what comes before the dashes and what comes after. The em dash is designed to help the reader cope with that kind of logical disjointment. In addition, commas here could create confusion by suggesting that "unbidden" and "vigorous" may both be intended as descriptors of "seed."

Understood, and I don't disagree.

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

That I had considered. I just hate calling the subject such a pejorative term; when I think about it, it's like using the "n" word! One word sorely needed in the English language is something non-derogatory to signify "wild plant." Would you leave the quotes around "edit"?

I don't get behind that. In fact, I do it on purpose, lol. I love to say things like, "I hope the neighbor doesn't show up to molest us!" Even so, in this case, I just don't see "weed" as pejorative. 

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Thank you! It pays to ask! 🙂 Noplace in particular; I'm just interested in spontaneous reactions--whatever jumps out at the reader, for good or ill. 🙂 

Well, notice I didn't say anything about the meter? :laugh: Even my question is posed in a way where I didn't bring it up. 😉 Figured people might be sick of that ...

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

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20 hours ago, Tinker said:

AB,   Sorry, I bit off more than I could chew and went into a kind of hibernation in my isolation.  You'd think shelter in place would mean boring with time on my hands but it has been just the opposite so far for me and this last week I couldn't do more than take care of business, doing those things I absolutely had to get done and shut down everything else.  I still haven't set up the new form in the Reference section and haven't read your latest poem or anyone's for that matter.  Hopefully I'll be in a better position to just read and enjoy very shortly, but I saw you tagged me and came here to let you know, I am still around and haven't commented because of my self inflicted paralysis.  

~~Judi

 

3 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Take your time, Judi! I didn't tag you with the expectation of immediate response, and I was aware that you've been deeply absorbed in other things lately. For the amount of time you typically spend on all your poetic pursuits, I'm not at all surprised that other areas of your life need some catching up on right now! I sure know the feeling of needing to block everything else out to get a big and complicated list of things done. I'd been doing that for several weeks recently myself and have only just begun to emerge and say "hi" to my friends again! Take care and hope all goes well. ☺️

Ladies, not to worry. There are no restrictions, real or purported, on gatherings here at PMO. Close contact is allowed and even encouraged!

Tony:-8):happy:

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

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Muchly enjoyed AB. The vigour of the verse is a perfect fit for the content.

Quote

Who are we who cannot love a “weed”—

A burst of glory absent from our books,

Cheerfully settling unclaimed sweeps and nooks

And spreading—quite unbidden—vigorous seed?

A strong opening that grabs the attention and sets the assertive tone. A sense of unbridled life overflows bookish ways and perspectives.

Quote

We “edit” plants but excise ones we need:

The improv genius in our landscapes’ scenes

Bests browns of mulch with blossom-tones and greens

And asks not even thank-you’s for the deed!

I didn't know what improv meant, but found that it was an abbreviation for improvisation, which nicely fits the 'art'. Liked the whimsical thank-you.

Quote

Spring can’t pick villains from among its flowers;

Nature is liberal in the grace it dowers

Every child of hers, wild thing and breed!

I noticed Nature is personified with choice, but Spring isn't. In keeping with the positivity, perhaps won't rather than can't?

Quote

The gardeners’ admonishments mislead:

Some keep a peony, though it looks a fright

By summer—trim and tend it as one might—

Yet wrest wild aster, with its effortless grace

From its self-appointed place

Where floral primadonnas would recede.

Love the term floral primadonnas.

Quote

It earns its space, true plantsmen must concede,

So let us measure virtues and not names—

For unbred lovelies have their own sweet games

Of fragrance, form, and habit, too. I’d plead

Objective quality should be our creed—

This way, we’ll see the prized plant in the weed!

For unbred lovelies have their own sweet games - love that line, unaffected. Also like the break emphasis on I plead. I wasn't so sure about Objective quality, which felt rather dry., though it does convey the need to appreciate without that filter of taught bias.

thanks for sharing

Phil

(ps Tony offers the facility of blogging on the site. I, for one, would be interested in your gardening advice)

 

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@tonyv

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But I don't mind if someone who knows more about the art explains the art to me. 😉 I figured that out when I took the guided tour. There was much I would have missed if I hadn't done that.

I'm with you on that. I guess the key for you is that the explanation should not be done within the work itself, and I'm even on board with that, in principle; I just wouldn't apply the principle to the same extent that you would.

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I agree. The experience would be different, but the poem itself would not be better on one media or the other. (So long as the meter isn't flawed. :tongue:)

Yes, but isn't this self-evident? The point is almost moot, because it's the experience that makes the difference.

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Understood, and I don't disagree.

I notice you said that rather than "I agree." I guess this means that your mind is open to multiple realities here. 😉

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I don't get behind that. In fact, I do it on purpose, lol. I love to say things like, "I hope the neighbor doesn't show up to molest us!" Even so, in this case, I just don't see "weed" as pejorative.

The import depends upon the context; you cite a joking one. I can almost see this poem as having a similarly light context in which the term would not come off as pejorative...but not quite. I'm anxious here to urge people to consider the way they throw around the "w" word and the affect it has on our attitudes toward wild plants.

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Well, notice I didn't say anything about the meter? :laugh: Even my question is posed in a way where I didn't bring it up. 😉 Figured people might be sick of that ...

By all means, say your piece on meter. I probably don't need an explanation broken down in detail, complete with an elucidation of principles and scansion, but do tell me what works and what doesn't for you and I can probably figure out your reasoning from there.

Thanks again, T!

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@badger11

I've noticed that a couple of your poems that I've read suggest a gardening bent in yourself (after all, you are an Englishman, I presume), and these poems even share a similar broad theme of the triumph of the Dionysian over the Apollonian. So you're an ideal reader for this poem! I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and a special thanks for breaking down the "why." 

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I didn't know what improv meant, but found that it was an abbreviation for improvisation, which nicely fits the 'art'.

It must be an Americanism! I used it here to mean "improvised;" Merriam-Webster defines "improv" to mean "of, relating to, or being improvisation and especially an improvised comedy routine." It's funny, I had wanted to use the full word here but didn't have the space. Several times, I discounted the possibility of using the abbreviation instead, until I realized it fit perfectly not only in size but tenor. I need to get used to using informal terms more in my poetry when appropriate.

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I noticed Nature is personified with choice, but Spring isn't. In keeping with the positivity, perhaps won't rather than can't?

Hmm. I had actually intended Spring as a personification too, just a more objective one than humans. She "can't" pick, not because her hands are tied, but because she sees things as they are. In any case, thanks for drawing attention to this point; it could be that my intent is too oblique here. How about "Spring picks no villains"? That might seem to hit a nice neutral point between "can't" and "won't."

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I wasn't so sure about Objective quality, which felt rather dry., though it does convey the need to appreciate without that filter of taught bias.

I agree; I've never cared much for the line, either. It seemed out of tune with the rest of the poem. How about

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...I’d plead

"Behold the truth in each" should be our creed—

which has, perhaps, a more philosophical tone?

I wonder what your thoughts are on Tony's comments about my punctuation choices? I'm taking votes!

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(ps Tony offers the facility of blogging on the site. I, for one, would be interested in your gardening advice)

Oh my goodness! There is so much already out there on this topic that it would be a struggle to write anything really new. However, if I had a plot of my own land, I would begin experimenting at once with using "weeds" in an ornamental capacity. Now that would be something to blog about! 

Thank you so much for your feedback. 💮

Incidentally, if you're ever inclined to explore a longer poetic sojourn into gardening, I recently posted a poem, "The Formal Gardens, and Beyond," in a new Longer Poems section under the Longer Poetic Works forum. It deals with a similar theme of order vs. disorder, although with somewhat more ambivalence toward both sides. 

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Spring picks no villains

 

or

Spring seeds/roots no villains

 

Behold the truth in each" should be our creed - a tad old testament, but not too much so in your poem.

No punctuation issues for me.

I'll check out your longer work.

best

Phil

 

 

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Spring seeds/roots no villains

Oh--well, that would put Spring in-the same as that of Nature as I've portrayed her, which would seem a bit redundant. I envisioned Nature as the creator, and Spring as a more refining, discriminating persona. But it can get confusing role-casting personifications! "Seeds/roots" would also  require a broader revamping of the line

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Spring picks no villains from among its flowers;

not that it couldn't be done if it seemed warranted.

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"Behold the truth in each" should be our creed - a tad old testament, but not too much so in your poem.

Whew! 😆 I slipped by by a hair!

Quote

No punctuation issues for me.

Interesting. That goes to show how much subjectivity there is in such things!

I'm pleased you'll check out my longer piece. I think I'll consider that my contribution toward National Poetry Month.

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AB,  Finally I have time and intent and interest to read and I'm back to enjoy this very musical piece.  I'm alone so have no problem reading out loud and this lyrical piece blessed my ears. 

A lot has been commented here, I'm not interrupting that.  I have added this poem link to the Neoteric Classic explaination in the invented forms reference section.  Finally I got that done too.  Now for me to give this form a try.  I have to come up with a good topic though.

I'm just starting out in my garden to control the chaos.  I fight one hearty weed that will take over everything if I allow it, St John's Wort.  But I encourage another weed that I actually have spread seed, the California poppy.   I loved how your poem balanced the natural with the cultivated.  

On 3/29/2020 at 11:54 AM, A. Baez said:

Nature is liberal in the grace it dowers

So true and so beautifully stated.   I really enjoyed reading this and find it making me antsy to get outside.  Everyone including me are thinking to write either  pandemic or welcome spring poems right now and I've been reading mode all morning.   This is my favorite spring poem so far this season. 

~~Judi

 

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~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Hi Judi, welcome back! I'm glad you so enjoyed the poem and that you got the Neoteric Classic entry posted! Just one thing--this poem isn't a Neoteric Classic proper; it has an additional 6-line verse, eeffaA, before the final six-liner. I don't know how you would notate that in your entry, but anyway. Like I said, it seemed like the weeds needed more room to spread out in this poem than the Neoteric Classic "original formula" would provide!

I'm glad I managed through this poem to make you antsy to get outside! This is my favorite time of year--profoundly inspiring and invigorating. Wow, is your St. John's wort something that you had originally planted? After pulling it out, you could dry some of it and dispense it as tea to anyone you know who suffers from depression. I've tried it a couple times in the past myself when I had a bit of the blues and I found it made a noticeable difference! And is California poppy really considered a weed where you live? Here, it's considered a wildflower and is often an ingredient in the wildflower mixes you see sold in cans and packets. Again, "one man's weed is another man's treasure."

Funny what you say about seeing a preponderance of spring poems and pandemic poems. The other day, I started trying to write a piece that was about both topics. I thought the juxtaposition that has been occurring between these two things is so striking that it could make for quite an interesting poem. We'll see if I'm able to pull this off at all.

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AB,   I understand this is longer than the original Neoteric Classic frame but it uses the frame and expands.  Really that is how all forms should be approached.  The content comes first, the frame 2nd.  It is how the sonnet grew.   The sonnet is basically a 14 line lyrical poem with rhyme and meter.   But there are many, many, identified sonnet forms.  The sonnet has evolved.

The poppy just shows up here.  I've never planted them but there a lot in my yard.  Wild flower / pretty weed... semantics.    I didn't plant St John's Wort, I didn't even know what it was for a long time.   It is very prolific.    I just want to get rid of it.   I want to work in the garden so badly, working from home allows breaks where I can do that but it has been cold and rainy here off and on for the last couple of weeks.  More rain tomorrow. 

Anyway,  I loved your poem.  

~~Judi

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Judi, okay, if that's how your Invented Forms posting works--with links to anything that expands on the frame, as well as things that strictly adhere to it--very well.

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Wild flower / pretty weed... semantics.

Well, the California poppy is your state flower, so it would seem a bit rough to call it a weed! St. Johnswort is supposedly a native of central and eastern US, so it sounds like either it has actually spread far beyond that range, or perhaps it just escaped from some garden near yours onto your property.

I imagine that if I worked at a typical job that was normally afield and that now required me to work from home, I would be thrilled. When I worked for employers, I always wanted to spend more time at home, having more control over my environment and my time. However, now that I run my show and am always in places I love, I would miss terribly not being able to spend time in my clients' gardens. I don't have a yard of my own, so I depend on my clients' for my gardening fix!

 

 

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