Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested we write a syllabic poem using synonyms for the word “work” and “play,” and to contrast the two for this week’s #TankaTuesday.
I have to admit that the synonym prompts are not my favorite. I prefer a little looser prompt, and this was even tighter by the need to contrast them. So go ahead and hate my poem, which is three Badger’s Hexastitch stanzas put together. I used that form because I LOVE the name. It’s like a cross between something a witch does as a hobby and the town that Loretta Lynn sings about in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (Butcher’s Holler).
For work I used the word “toil,” because it reminded me of two of my favorite poems (see below). And for play I used “entertain” and “rest.”
like Hopkins and Shakespeare.*
Entertain sounds lazy
as if I should
does not toil much
except to wash himself
or hunt food if he must,
that I can be
more like the cat than me
and rest when I need to,
toiling just as
Hopkins is the Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “God’s Grandeur,” and Shakespeare is Will himself, “Song of the Witches” from MacBeth. I loved to entertain my kids when they were little with the latter.
Here are both poems and you can see where I got “toil” from.
GOD'S GRANDEUR by Gerard Manley Hopkins The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? Generations have trod, have trod, have trod; And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod. And for all this, nature is never spent; There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; And though the last lights off the black West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs — Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
SONG OF THE WITCHES by William Shakespeare Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the caldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg and howlet's wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble. Cool it with a baboon's blood, Then the charm is firm and good. Notes: Macbeth: IV.i 10-19; 35-38 Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)
Now if you’re still reading, here’s a sonnet that I wrote based on the Hopkins poem which was published in Last Stanza Poetry Journal by editor Jenny Kalahar. After that you can see a pic of my cutie pie Meesker.
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod*
by Luanne Castle
and I am shackled to the backlit screen,
subjected to technology’s caprice,
my feet immobile, hidden, and benumbed,
my thoughts dispelled by cumbrous messages
of discounts, password problems, and a troll,
and so I scroll my Twitter notices
and scan What’s Happening, then Google God,
procrastinating still and find, alas,
my spirit drifts away, mere haze, but then
the images of light dividing clouds
is how we see the brightest wings and warmth
and you appear and take me by my hand
to share the garden, smell the sweetbush, hear
the cactus wrens, and trill for butterflies.
*Title is a line from "God's Grandeur"