Today's post isn't really from tabs I had open on my desktop; in fact, I had to open more tabs in its creation. Typical! I generally do open more tabs faster than I close the ones already open.
When I was doing my daffodil begging (see this post for that tale), a friend sent me some forsythia instead; this was the same friend who didn't want to sneak into her neighbors' yards to take pictures of their flowers - go figure!
Photo Credit: Joy Dupree
Perfect, I thought, I'll post some forsythia poems! The first one I thought of was "Naming of Parts," by Henry Reed. Imagine my surprise when I looked it up and learned it isn't forsythia at all in that poem, but japonica! All they have in common, that I can see, is that their names are the same number of syllables, with the emphasis in the same place, and that they both bloom in early spring. Both facts are important to this poem. I think the most common adjective used online to describe this poem is "much-anthologized." Certainly I read it in school, at a time when I had no idea what either japonica or forsythia looked like (see the photos - forsythia above, japonica below).
Photo Source: gardenbeast.com
In the poem, there's a jarring juxtaposition between a training session in weapon use for soldiers (today they're learning the parts of a gun) and the japonica blooming out of control. The poem starts this way:
Naming of Parts
by Henry Reed
Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday
we had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighbouring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.
So after finding out that my first forsythia poem wasn't even about forsythia, I found a couple of actual forsythia poems to share. The first one is "Forsythia," by Billy Collins, and the second, "Finally the Forsythia," by Virginia Shreve.
by Billy Collins
It caught my eye a while ago, lit up
against the gloom of woods
in the corner of a wide field,
the pulsing color of caution.
And now that I have spent a little time
on this stone wall watching its fire
flare out of the earth
I begin to think about the long chronicle of forsythia,...
Here's the rest. You'll have to click through to the second part of it in this facsimile of the Poetry magazine spread it appeared in back in 1995. I love how Billy Collins, in his inimitable fashion, explores the associations forsythia has in his mind. The poem ends this way:
as I feel the syllables of yellow form in my mouth
and hear the sound of yellow fill the morning air.
Finally the Forsythia
by Virginia Shreve
Finally the forsythia
flocks down the lane
laps around the block
tiny yellow birds
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