Ferns

Fern

Winter

Coiled like snail shells, fronds hide underground beneath the canopy of trees.

Spring

Warmed by filtered sun, bathed by dripping leaves, soft coils rise.

Summer

Green banners unfurl, staking claim to the forest floor.

Fall

Disappearance begins, fronds bow low in a final curtain call before the cold.

The idea for this poem came to me as I was separating and transplanting a mature fern. After removing it from the container I saw the nascent fronds coiled below the surface looking like so many snails. This made me think of the life-cycle the plant would move through during the coming year.

Listening to the Waves at Night

Hermosa Beach Waves at Night (Redux)

Waves crash in

grabbing at the sand,

unable to

remain.

Sound rises up from the unseen shore.

Turbulence bringing peace and tranquility through the night air.

I wrote this short poem while at the Gulf Coast recently. Several stories up from the beach, we left the terrace door open at night and were lulled to sleep by the waves below us.

The Geranium Pot

Poem The Geranium Pot
Geranium (Photo credit: dog.happy.art)

On my deck sits an old terra cotta pot that once belonged to my grandfather.

I planted a Geranium in it last spring that stood the test of winter and came back healthy and strong.

In the afternoons, when the sun has dropped behind the trees,

I sit outside and enjoy the beauty contained in this old pot.

How many plants has it nourished since the day it left the fire?

How much beauty do we miss because it comes to us clothed in simplicity?

Southern Prose and Poetry by Edwin Mims & Bruce R. Payne

Southern Prose and Poetry
US stamp honoring Sidney Lanier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The principal purpose of this collection is to inspire the youth of the South to a more earnest and intelligent study of the literature of that section.” So begins Southern Prose and Poetry. I came across this volume in a collection of books retrieved from storage at my wife’s parents’ home. It was published in 1910 by Charles Schribner’s Sons and was complied for the above purpose by the head of the English department at Vanderbilt University (Mims) and the president of Peabody College for Teachers (Payne).

It features works by well known nineteenth and early twentieth century southern writers such as Edgar Allen Poe, John James Audubon, Joel Chandler Harris and Sidney Lanier. But, it also showcases writing by famous southerners not known primarily as authors. For example there are personal letters written by Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jefferson as well as speeches by Henry Clay and Henry Grady. I particularly enjoyed Grady’s eloquent 1886 address to the New England Club called “The New South.” In it he speaks of my home town, Atlanta, Georgia:

I want to say to General Sherman, who is considered an able man in our parts, though some people think he is a kind of careless man with fire, that from the ashes he left us in 1864 we have raised a brave and beautiful city…

I also enjoyed several of the personal letters. The poignant letter from Robert E. Lee to his sister telling of his difficult decision to resign his U.S. Army commission and fight for his native Virginia and the letter from Thomas Jefferson to his young daughter speaking of his love for her and his hope for her future. In all these letters the writing compares favorably with the work of the “real” authors in the book, reminding me there was a time before email when personal correspondence was as much an art form as literature.

But my favorite section of the book is poetry. The civil war poetry written from a southern perspective, such as “Ashby” by John Reuben Thompson or “The Sword of Robert Lee” by Abram Joseph Ryan, is not the kind of thing you find in poetry anthologies very often. Coupled with these are also more well-known poems by Edgar Allan Poe and Sydney Lanier.

If you’re a poetry lover or a lover of history and literature, this is an excellent book to have around. I’m still reading through the poems and some of the prose and am sure I’ll get many more hours of enjoyment from this old book.

If you’re not fortunate enough to come across an original edition, Southern Prose and Poetry can be purchased as a reprint from Amazon:

Or, read for free on line here:

Southern Prose and Poetry