Tuesday, April 13, 2021

April Poetry

This April the brighter sunshine highlights the colors and markings of the birds. The starling's subtle teal and black gleams in the light. The robin's orange breast contrasts sharply with the grays of his head and wings. Two winters ago, I watched a downy woodpecker ladder up the tree. Her movement held a certain rhythm:  ta dum'  ta dum'  ta dum.' It reminded me of a line in a poem. 

Although no one knows for sure, poetry probably originated in the oral tradition of epics. Long stories were learned and repeated. Rhyme and rhythm helped storytellers or traveling troubadours memorize the words. When I have enough of a poem on a page, I read it aloud to hear the rhythm. Often with reading, I change a word without even knowing that it needed to be changed. Poetry is made from many moving parts but some kind of rhythm is critical. A break or change in the rhythm of a poem often signals the reader that something interesting is going to happen. In A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver wrote that "rhythm underlies everything."

Rhythm is pleasurable and soothing. Rhythmic rocking soothes babies and small children. Watch a woman with a cranky baby, even it is not her own. Her first instinct is to cradle the child while swaying side to side. The quiet or exuberant rhymes of children't books, like Goodnight Moon or Green Eggs and Ham become favorites of preschoolers and older children. Rhyming and rhythmical text help lay a foundation for language and literacy skills.  

Paul Valery said, "A poem is never finished, only abandoned." I worked on this little poem for quite some time. It began with a little downy woodpecker who made her way up the trunk of the birch outside my window. It is ready to be abandoned. 

Be Still and Wait *

Be still and wait

    walk into stillness

    pause with the wind.

Collect and gather

    honor stream, leaves, roots,

    junco, moss, and birch.

Sing a circle

    unravel a song

    follow one drop of rain.

Spin from the stars

    weave as a spider

    leave a strand undone.

Wait long in the center.

    Echo the downy

    begin again.

*Copyright Jane A. Wolfe, 2021


  1. This poem is simply beautiful and I thank you for sharing! I love the pleasing rhythm, especially the "Spin from the stars" lines.

  2. A very relaxing poem.

    I think rhythm is what I like about knitting. The repetition of movement is very soothing.

  3. oh Jane, this is lovely. Thank you so much for sharing it! I especially love the way the lines tell multiple stories depending on how you arrange them. "leave a strand undone. begin again." xxoo.

  4. What a beautiful, calming poem this is, Jane! You are so right about how soothing rhythm is. Sometimes when I hear a crying baby, even though I know it's not mine, I find myself unconsciously starting that rhythmic swaying again.

  5. A beautiful, soothing poem Jane - thank you for sharing. You certainly have a way with words (and rhythm).

  6. Beautiful Jane! Thank you so much for sharing these words! I love the rhythm and can see the downy woodpecker in my minds eye move with your poem.

  7. You are truly talented!! I write poems in my creative journal frequently. The older I get the more I appreciate poetry.