When Night Comes Down

The Word of the Day challenge for today is TWILIGHT.
I’m going to respond with this thought provoking verse by Edgar Guest:

NIGHT

When night comes down
to the busy town
and the toilers stir no more,
then who knows which
is the poor or rich
of the day which went before?

When dreams sweep in
through the traffic’s din
for the weary minds of men,
though we all can say
who is rich by day,
who can name us the rich man then?

It is only awake
the proud may take
much joy from the stuff they own,
for the night may keep
her gifts of sleep
for the humblest mortal known.

By day held fast
to creed and caste,
men are sinner and saint and clown.
But who can tell
where the glad hearts dwell
when the dreams come drifting down?

.
From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

The Travels of Two Fleas

Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is PONDER
Word of the Day challenge is ZERO
Daily Addictions prompt word: TROPICAL

And here’s my response, a just-for-fun tale…

THE TRAVELS OF TWO FLEAS

Two fleas went hopping on a mat,
having disembarked the cat
to have a moment out-of-fur
and once escape that thunderous purr.

Their tropical resort gets hot,
with itchy dandruff and whatnot;
sometimes they hunger for fresh air,
to see the world outside that hair,
so they opt for a walkabout.
The mat gives them a good workout.

Some minutes pass; their wandering zeal
is quenched by urge to have a meal
and so they seek their host again —
but puss has moved along by then
which leaves them with an unfilled yen.

And worse! The housekeeper now sees,
has zero tolerance for fleas,
so scoops the mat up from the floor
and shakes it harshly out the door.
They tumble off into the grass
and land together in a mass.

They sort themselves and find some shade
behind the thickest grassy blade
to soothe their bruised elbows and knees
and ponder life’s uncertainties.
So now two fleas hide in the grass
in hopes that some new host will pass.

Loving Little Arms

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is HUG.
In response I’ll offer this poem from Saskatchewan poet Roy Lobb, who was born in Ontario about 1892 and lived in the Melfort, SK, district.

TO MY SON

Two little arms and two little legs
each night would kick and toss;
ten little scratchy finger nails;
all these belonged to Ross.

Ringlets and curls on a high-set brow,
with blue eyes peeking through;
little stub nose and flushy cheeks
as fair as heaven’s dew.

A loving heart in a wee broad chest,
reserved a place for me;
stood near the gate and waved good-bye
as far as I could see.

Two little feet ran down the lane
to meet me coming home;
those happy thoughts I’ll treasure dear
wherever I may roam.

A little brown pup close by his side
would wag his tail in glee;
each night when I came home from work,
they’d want to play with me.

Two little arms around my neck
would start to scratch and tickle,
saying, “Dad, I’ll give you one big hug
if you give me a nickel.”

At close of day he’d climb my knee
and cuddle in a heap,
saying “Daddy, tell me a story now
before I go to sleep.”

Lovers Love Leaves

Zephyrs

zephyrs rustle
the fallen leaves
around our feet–
your laughter
my stale jokes
two lovers loving
autumn leaves
Flourish.Gordon Johnson

If you enjoy my poems you may be interested in my anthology of stories and poems. The e-book sells on Amazon for $3.99 US, the paperback for $10.99. This collection would make a great home-and-family type Christmas gift, especially for a nature lover.

cover page

I’ve  just checked the status of this book on Amazon’s KINDLE SELECT and I appear to have missed the cancellation date. Consequently SILVER MORNING SONG will be free to read, for subscribers of Kindle Select, until Feb 8th, 2020.

PS: The little flourish under my poem was done by Gordon Johnson and is one of the free images at Pixabay.

How To Be A Captain

The Word of the Day Challenge this morning is LABOR.
This interesting poem by Edgar Guest will be my response.
If you want the position, you gotta earn it. 🙂

HOW TO BE A CAPTAIN

“I’d like to be the captain of a ship that sails the sea;
I’d like to wear that uniform,” a youngster said to me.

Said I: “Let’s ask the captain what a youngster has to do
who wants to be the master of a vessel and its crew.”

So up we went to see him, with this question on our lips:
“What is it captains have to do before they get their ships?”

There was a twinkle in his eye as unto us he said:
“Well, first I tugged at anchor chains until my hands were red;

I scrubbed the decks and learned the ropes and trundled bales below;
I washed the dishes for the cook, but that was years ago

I carried slops and polished brass when I was young like you.
There wasn’t anything about the ship I didn’t do.

I stokered and I learned to oil, and in a year or two
they let me take my trick at wheel, which I had longed to do,

And well I mind the happy lump that came into my throat
The day they made me Number One of the Number Seven boat.

I served as petty officer for several years or more
and by and by, as second mate, a uniform I wore.

And when I’d learned a little more–I don’t recall the date
My captain recommended me to be the vessel’s mate.

So when you see a captain in his braided uniform
it means that he’s been tried below, and tried above in storm.

He’s had many years of service in the crow’s nest and the hold,
and worked his way through grease and dirt to get that braid of gold.”

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

Haiku: A Quick History

Haiku & Senryu History

from comments by Alan Summers,
compiled by Christine Goodnough

Most people who know about haiku think of masters like Basho and his famous poem about the frog jumping into the pond. Or the tender-hearted, melancholic Issa who knew so much sorrow in his life. Haiku master Alan Summers, who has spent decades studying this form of poetry, offers the following background for this style of poetry.

Are haiku verses all about nature?

Pre-haiku, as written by Basho et al, were seasonal poems, more than being nature poems. They might be about a human society celebration, the coming of age of boys, children, or Matsuri, which are holidays, religious days or farming events.

When haiku came about, in the 1890s, it was caught in the old medieval mindset, but on the edge of the 20th century, when trains and factories were starting to be built. So I think of haiku, which really came into its own just before WWII and post-WWII, reflecting the industrial revolution and huge changes in human society.

The intimate relationship with the seasons, coming from the pre-Industrial Revolution era when people were super-aware of the slightest shift into the next part of a season, meant that folks would write little postcards with a seasonal reference. Sometimes this was just a note or a hello, and not always poetry. But when haikai poetry came about, the common and popular and normal practice of mentioning the change in a season in conversation, gossip, or greeting cards, also became part of the tiny haikai poems.

In the shift toward haiku, just before the 20th century, writers often used the seasonal ‘mention’ although post-WWII when the industrial revolution morphed into the various technological leaps in warfare and general manufacture, different topics would be added. Of course, as they moved into computer technology and robotics, these would be naturally added.

So nature, or natural history, is often part of a haikai verse in some aspect, but this is only part of the body of haikai poetry.

When Shiki did his reformation of haiku and tanka, little changed for a decade or two, then those society-changing world wars we seem to love for some reason, shifted haiku into its own genre, away from the chains of the medieval hokku and earlier haikai verses penned by Basho et al.

Haiku has been known in the West almost as long as in Japan, interestingly enough. The French were the very earliest to pen haiku very early on in the 20th Century.

See: Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton 2013)
ed. Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, Allan Burns; plus Introduction by Billy Collins
Click here for link.

What is senryu?

This was another verse from the big group poem collaboration called Renga, which spawned both hokku (similar to haiku) and the verse named after its most successful propagator.

Senryu was the nickname or pen-name of a poet who was famous for this particular style of verse in the group poetry writing activity called renga, and later, under Basho, the increasingly popular renku. Both renga and renku are the most complicated and intricate poems in the world, with more rules than you could shake a stick at!

Senryu verses were sometimes written to mock the growing haiku writers and, before haiku came about, the various haikai verse writers who wrote hokku.

A good test of what makes the verse a senryu: CLICK HERE.

For more reading, check out these articles & free books:

To learn more about the various forms of Japanese poetry, check out Call of the Page

Why haiku is different and Basho never wrote them in English: Click Here

More than one fold in the paper: Kire, kigo, and the vertical axis of meaning in haiku: Click Here

Free eBook:
Senryū: An Application to be a) human
by Alan Summers

Free eBook:
Kaneko Tohta:Selected Haiku With Notes and Commentary – Part 2 – 1961–2012

There are also a number of online haiku journals where you can find great examples of Japanese poetry:
Troutswirl, cattails, The Heron’s Nest, Wales Haiku Journal, etc.