Poesy (n)--poetical works, poetry, the work or the art of poetic composition (archaic); from Latin poesis, to create
Posy (n)--a flower or a bunch of flowers, a bouquet or nosegay
Poesy vs. posy. The words are similar in pronunciation. The values assigned to each have similar characteristics--beauty, wonder, creativity. I discovered this little marvel of a posy along the roadside on a recent walk, the dayflower. So named because it blooms for only one day. How timely I came along just on that day. As Keats says, poesy should be a friend to soothe the cares and lift thoughts. Stumbling on a chance wildflower is like a friend as well. This posy in particular makes me think of a skier with her legs extended out of the ski lift high above the mountain!
Random and serendipitous flowers and sometimes poetry, too. Have you stumbled unexpectedly upon either one that has lifted your thoughts lately?
I found myself drawn to the latest revelation of roadside weeds, this specimen now proliferating up the hill where I walk. A bold plant, tall and strong and with wooly leaves, I wondered what it could be. Turns out it is mullein, a giant spike of a plant that comes from the snapdragon family and sports bright, compact yellow flowers. Throughout history the plant has gone by various names, including candlewick plant since it was used in Roman times as a torch, as well as Jacob's staff and Aaron's rod. But is it only a weed, or does it have any value?
Well, who knew? Although considered bothersome and weedy by some, others claim it has benefits for respiratory health. I don't know how true this is, but one can find a mullein tea on the market. What I do know is that the plant caught my attention when I chose to really look. The flowers are beautiful and the plant's presence is certainly dramatic up and down the landscape.
Staying observant, being attentive, fostering curiosity--all can play into creativity and imaginative directions in our lives. So why not stay curious and tune in, one marvel at a time? And if we take it one word (especially a kind word, a caring, encouraging, appreciative, valuing word) at a time, maybe Stephen King's writing advice can be adapted to life itself, transforming what might seem like weeds in our relationships into beneficial flowers. Yes, one (healing) word at a time...
I continue to be drawn to writing, even if it's only scribbling in a journal, making sense of the notes I jot down and stuff in a pocket, revisiting and revising an old project, or starting a new one. Like James Michener (above), I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle. I also love quotes. Through the years I've collected quite a few--on a variety of subjects and from all kinds of sources.
So, while recently gleaning through my collection (and trying to pare it down!), I found--not surprisingly--numerous quotes on writing. Some speak of the process of writing. Others of the joy of writing. Some share writing advice on while others inspire, stir, and admonish. But the ones that jumped out at me on this run-through were the ones that started out with "Writing is..."
Writing is...what? How to describe? Well, taking from my collection, here are 22 quotes that attempt to do just that:
1. "Writing is thinking on paper." --William Zinsser 2. "Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go." --E.L. Doctorow 3. "Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers." --Isaac Asimov 4. "The act of writing is the act of discovering what you believe." --Gustave Flaubert 5. "Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else." --Gloria Steinem 6. "Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees. Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain." --Elie Wiesel 7. "Writing is like a bird-watcher watching for birds: The stories are there; you just have to train yourself to look for them." --Barbara Micheals, author of The Wizard's Daughter 8. "Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone." --Amy Tan 9. "Good writing is like a windowpane." --George Orwell 10. "Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can't be taught." --Paul Desmond 11. "Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words." --Mark Twain 12. "Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." --Gene Fowler 13. "Writing is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent elimination." --Louise Brooks 14. "Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay." --Flannery O'Connor 15. The act of writing is an act of optimism. You would not take the trouble to do it if you felt it didn't matter." --Edward Albee 16. "It's the sheer act of writing, more than anything else, that makes a writer." --John Gardner 17. "The act of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." --Mary Heaton Vorse 18. "Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you've made sense of one small area." --Nadine Gordimar 19. "Putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought making us think more deeply even if our writing is thrown away." --Norbet Platt 20. "Writing is a struggle against silence." --Carlos Fuentes 21. "Writing is both mask and unveiling." --E.B. White 22. "Planning to write is not writing. Outlining...researching...talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing." --E.L. Doctorow
Which quote speaks to you the most? How would you describe writing? What do you collect?
Haiku, walks, wordplay, sunshine, children's laughter (even if only on video chats)--and the goldfinch--are some of the bright spots that bring smiles my way while traveling this difficult path of the coronavirus. And the poem by Emily Dickinson, familiar to many, comes to mind:
HOPE IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS
by Emily Dickinson
"Hope" is the thing with feathers,
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.
Wishing you bright spots, smiles, health and hope as you travel through these days, too.
Hoping this finds everyone safe and well in these times of uncertainty. In my little corner of the world, spring is displaying her beauty and each time I went out for a walk in recent days (thankfully, I can do that in my neighborhood), I found myself snapping pictures along the way. Sharing a collage of the beauty here along with a haiku I penned in response to troubling times.
And speaking of poems in response to the times, have you seen the poem Lockdown, penned by Brother Richard Hendrick, a priest in Ireland? I found it here at Irish Centralbut understand that it was first posted on facebook March 13, and has since been viewed tens of thousands of times. Resonating words for many...
by Richard Hendrick
Yes there is fear. Yes there is isolation. Yes there is panic buying. Yes there is sickness. Yes there is even death. But, They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise You can hear the birds again. They say that after just a few weeks of quiet The sky is no longer thick with fumes But blue and grey and clear. They say that in the streets of Assisi People are singing to each other across the empty squares, keeping their windows open so that those who are alone may hear the sounds of family around them. They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound. Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighbourhood So that the elders may have someone to call on. Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way All over the world people are waking up to a new reality To how big we really are. To how little control we really have. To what really matters. To Love. So we pray and we remember that Yes there is fear. But there does not have to be hate. Yes there is isolation. But there does not have to be loneliness. Yes there is panic buying. But there does not have to be meanness. Yes there is sickness. But there does not have to be disease of the soul Yes there is even death. But there can always be a rebirth of love. Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now. Today, breathe. Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic The birds are singing again The sky is clearing, Spring is coming, And we are always encompassed by Love. Open the windows of your soul And though you may not be able to touch across the empty square, Sing.
March 13th 2020
Heart-touching and truth-telling...
Do you read poetry? What poets/poetry books particularly speak to you, both in good times and bad?
Wishing all the very best in the days to come. Stay well. Love. Sing.