Thursday, April 23, 2009

National Poetry Month: Prestwick House Recommends...

The poem that stands out in my mind is Robert Frost’s “Putting in the Seed.” I read it for the first time as a seventeen-year-old college student, in a freshman year class entitled “Metaphors Be With You,” taught by the unforgettable Devon Miller-Duggan. She was one of those teachers that made getting up for a Friday morning class wholly worthwhile. I often think of this poem at this time of year when I start to spend time outside and lose track of all else.

Putting in the Seed


You come to fetch me from my work to-night

When supper's on the table, and we'll see
If I can leave off burying the white
Soft petals fallen from the apple tree.
(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite,

Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;)
And go along with you ere you lose sight

Of what you came for and become like me,
Slave to a springtime passion for the earth.

How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,
The sturdy seedling with arched body comes

Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

As an assignment for this class, we were asked to write a “response poem.” We were given no other direction than to read the poem, interpret it, and then write a poem answering or echoing Frost’s message in a way that made sense to us. I decided to write mine as the wife of the author —exasperated at her husband’s love of being outside for hours at a time.

A Wife’s Plea

Tonight, once again, I have readied your dinner,
broiled and browned and fiddled with taste.

I shout for you now, and I fear you grow thinner —

Unlike the weeds you consider, you do not make haste.

You insist Earth sustains you with mere shedding crumbs

and feeds your desires with gold-brown shafts of light.

Your senses are satisfied, you need not come,

tear away from the Mistress, whose beauty delights.

Oh, She may captivate, fertile sprouts taking root,

but man’s hunger sustains — and you must not ignore!

For She knows her power, bearing sweet tempting fruit,

She knows you are weak. Just a man. Nothing more.

I beg you, come in, lest Her grip hold you fast,

She is hungry, (always hungry!), and Her belly is vast.

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