Prosody 101

When they taught me that what mattered most
was not the strict iambic line goose-stepping
over the page but the variations
in that line and the tension produced
on the ear by the surprise of difference,
I understood yet didn't understand
exactly, until just now, years later
in spring, with the trees already lacy
and camellias blowsy with middle age,
I looked out and saw what a cold front had done
to the garden, sweeping in like common language,
unexpected in the sensuous
extravagance of a Maryland spring.
There was a dark edge around each flower
as if it had been outlined in ink
instead of frost, and the tension I felt
between the expected and actual
was like that time I came to you, ready
to say goodbye for good, for you had been
a cold front yourself lately, and as I walked in
you laughed and lifted me up in your arms
as if I too were lacy with spring
instead of middle aged like the camellias,
and I thought: so this is Poetry!

by Linda Pastan

Comments (3)

I have no idea why this is ranked so low: this poem starts academic and shifts and shifts and ends personal, and in the course of doing so demonstrates its thesis of creating tension by bringing about the unexpected, which the poem does so masterfully through the use of internal rhyme and natural diction. While at times prosaic, telling instead of showing, the three layers at which it operates is very tasteful in my opinion: and how it ultimately ends with a very personal, intimate interaction is so Pastan. We are showed that even tension is just a tool, and that what is really worth writing about is true human experience. This poem shows why Linda Pastan is a great in my opinion.
Yes.... And this is poetry! Nice work, Linda. dan
Beautiful. There is so much more inspiration to be found in life that in the rule books Hugs Anna xxx