Transforming Moments

Nursery rhymes and Dr. Seuss caught me as a child. Then poetry disappeared from my life, and I didn’t notice. In high school, I analyzed the elements of assigned poems, managing to do so without thought or connection. In college, I avoided math, foreign languages, and all things poetic; and as a young adult, I forgot poetry existed.

Then Robert Frost rose up, thumped me on my head, caught my attention, and took my breath away with a flow of simple words focused on a fleeting moment.

Dust of Snow          raven on a spruce
by Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

With his straightforward description of a meaningful moment in his life, Mr. Frost captured similar brief, shining occurrences I had experienced — moments that lifted me from myself and filled me with a sense of wonder: a monarch butterfly hovering near my face, a mountain sunset of magenta staining a river below, a breeze ruffling the cottonwood leaves through which I climbed, morning light outlining the silhouette of an elk, a bear playing peek-a-boo by repeatedly popping his head out of road-side undergrowth, then quickly withdrawing.

An evening grosbeak showed up in our yard today.Male Evening Grosbeak in Winter

I was drinking coffee with Joel, idly gazing at a spring-infused morning through windows in need of washing, when a male grosbeak plunked himself down in our platform feeder.

My heart leaped. After last summer’s absence, the bird with an unfortunate name and striking appearance had returned. I grabbed the binoculars to verify his details: bright yellow forehead and body, exaggerated pale bill, white-blazed wings and confident demeanor.

A grosbeak picking through the sunflower seeds we’d sprinkled with hope transformed my morning; a morning I had dreaded for reasons that now seemed insignificant.

The splendid bird also reunited me, however briefly, with an esteemed poet named Robert Frost: the man who returned me to poetry.

 

 

Advertisements

49 thoughts on “Transforming Moments

  1. Robert Frost is also one of my all-time favorite poets– My personal favorite is “Into My Own.” I love how poetry can transform the ordinary into extra-ordinary. 😊

    Like

  2. Wonderfully written. I think people who ignore their insignificance in the face of nature have a hole in their soul. I’m working on an essay about this very thing right now. Each time I read it through, I’m convinced that I don’t possess the skill to make the point. You managed to do it and keep it tight.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For reasons I may describe someday, I studied poetry more than I ever had planned to. That left me with a profound respect for poets. I follow a large number of poets and I enjoy almost everything they write. This is certainly a nice reminder as to why that may be the case. Thanks.

    Like

    • Your respect for poets and appreciation of their works comes through loud and clear in your blog, Dan. Since my discovery of the Frost poem and recognition of its universality, I, too, have read poetry, though I never studied it as did you. I’d like to hear the reasons why some day.

      Like

  4. Janet, your lovely post takes MY breath away. The moments you describe, that filled you with wonder, cause me to think and remember moments of my own. Aunt Beulah’s gentle thoughts and wisdom, so beautifully written, are themselves transformative.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, thank you, Mercy. I think you’ll appreciate knowing that it was Bill who read Dust of Snow, related to it in a big way, and told me I must read it. So truthfully, I guess you could say it was Bill who thumped me on the head.

      Like

      • Hmmm, somehow I can better picture Robert Frost thumping you with poetry.. Actually, I remember Bill as an intelligent, educated reader and I can see him sharing a poem, especially related to nature. We’re happy you thumped a path to poetry, and now share your own writing.

        Like

      • In one of his abortive attempts to get the college degree his parents desired for him, Bill took a poetry class,enjoyed it, got an A, and continued reading poetry off and on. Other favorites of his besides Dust of Snow were Invictis by William Ernest Henry and Sea Fever by John Masefield.If you’re not familiar with them, as I wasn’t until he showed them to me, you might want to take a look at them.

        Liked by 1 person

    • So good to hear from you, Kay. Thank you for noticing my word pictures. I worked hard on them and felt pleased with the result, so I appreciate hearing you liked them. Do you ever visit Craig? I’d love to see you.

      Like

  5. I love the way you can transport me into your world Janet.
    I’m so please Robert Frost came along to remind you of your gift! Lovely photo of the grosbeak, a gorgeous bird that I’d never heard of before. Thank you for widening my world. 🙂

    Like

    • I’m glad you find grosbeak as gorgeous as I do, Barbara. As I answer you I can count three in the feeder, one drinking from the bird bath, and two more in a nearby tree. I think a couple of grosbeak families are being raised in our yard. It is so much fun. And I appreciate your kind words about my writing.

      Like

  6. Ahh, Robert Frost-odd favorite for a West Coast of Canada girl, R.L.Stevenson, Langston Hughes, Robert Service, I can’t remember not loving poetry. They indeed broadened what may have remained a very narrow world. When you memorize a poem, no matter how trite, it is a companion in good and bad times, a comfort if you awake unsure or afraid. You are a treasured and fine writer. (We shipped a Grain Mill to Bighorn Wyoming today, thought of you) Thanks Janet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Once I rediscovered poetry with Mr. Frost’s help, I loved it as well, including the works of the poets you mention. Strange, Sheila, but in times of wakefulness or stress, I too recite poems or snippets of poems. They soothe me. I know Bighorn well; I didn’t receive intimations of your thought about me yesterday, but maybe I will when the parcel arrives in Bighorn.

      Like

      • Good morning Janet- do you recall Mr Frost at JFK’s inaugeration, reading in the cold? Quite profound. Edith in Bighorn will be getting a lovely mill. Happy Thursday.

        Like

      • I do remember the marvelous combination of the grand poet and the grand, good-looking young president when American spirits were optimistic and the sixties hadn’t yet taken their toll. Up to that point, the only inauguration I remember was Dwight D. Eisenhower’s because my class rode in the back of a livestock truck to our classmate Barney’s home, where sat the only TV in Lake Shore, to watch it. Another grand occasion. I hope your Thursday is happy as well, Sheila.

        Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right! We do get busy with our lives and fall away from poetry an little, nice moments. I picked up one of my books of poetry this morning to find the author of another poem, ended up browsing it for some time, and wondered why I don’t read poetry every day. So nice to hear from you.

      Like

  7. Yep, nature grounds me when things appear overwhelming. Love the old poets. As long as birds and everything else that inhabits our garden thrive I’m never short of somewhere to relax and recharge 🙂 Great post. Linda

    Like

  8. You know I take my Dylan Thomas shaken but not stirred. I like my Wordsworth on ice. But my Robert Frost, I always seem to take him straight up the way William Faulkner took his Hemingway. He goes down hard but the after effects feel pretty good. At least, he doesn’t give me a hangover the way William Blake does.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I liked the way you talked about how poetry lifted you from yourself, as did your Grosbeak neighbor. That’s the great thing about both poetry and nature. It just takes a small snippet to change the weary set of our shoulders. I’m so glad I found your blog. I always enjoy reading what you write.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I like the phrase “change the weary set of our shoulders” because it exactly captures what I was trying to say. Isn’t it nice that we found each other? Such happy discoveries are the best part of blogging.

      Like

  10. Always fascinating to me how something with the appearance of simplicity – Frost’s poems, a single bird at a feeder – are actually the most complex and stir thoughts and emotions that are deeply moving. I so enjoy your beautiful writing. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Evening Grosbeak is a splendid bird. How fortuitous to see one at just the right moment.
    Janet, I loved your descriptions of several transformative moments in your life. As another commenter noted: such elegant language!
    The Robert Frost poem is wonderful too. Two years ago I walked the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in Vermont. The trail crossed meadows and woodlands; Frost’s poems were etched in plaques alongside the path. A perfect way to spend an afternoon!

    Like

    • I find I go back to his poems more than any others. Every word is direct and necessary, even poem powerful in its simplicity. I’m glad to hear that you enjoy him as well.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s