National Poetry Month!

While TS Eliot famously wrote that “April is the cruelest month,” he probably only said so because National Poetry Month hadn’t been invented yet. In honor of all things poetry, I’m going to attempt to post one of my favorite poems a day, along with a brief look at why I think it’s so grand. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Shady Grove by Maurice Manning

Booth lazes in the spidery orchard watching
a ladybug navigate the back of his hand
as if the sun-freckled territory seems familiar–
how she is like a red grain of creeping joy,
and those apple trees like lichen-clad promontories
poking into the middle air, and the shaggy moss
beneath his head, a shimmering green plain.
Such days come to him like a quivering dove
and he needs no earthly rewards for his pains
but this, when his heart becomes a book
of hours and the day becomes a vessel,
unmoored. Booth wants to tell the pagans
to smash their plastic gods. Have them roll up
their sleeves beneath an apple tree and watch
the spotted angels festoon their heathen wrists.

There is a lot about this poem that I love. It comes from Manning’s collection Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions, a series of poems revolving around the eponymous character and Booth’s family. While there are a lot of strong poems, “Shady Grove” is one of the standouts. It’s a beautiful moment in time, a reflection on the power and beauty of nature, and acts as another addition the overall understand of Booth as a fully realized character. That being said, even this single poem gives readers a sense of who Booth is and how he sees the world around him.

Welcome to National Poetry Month!  I’ll keep a running list of the poems as they’re published below so you can use this has a handy guide to all the other great poems out there.

April 2nd: Naomi Shihab Nye: The Words Under the Words

April 3rd: Edwin Morgan: Good Friday

April 4th: Sylvia Plath: Blackberrying

April 5th: Seamus Heaney: Blackberry Picking

April 6th: Emily Dickinson: A light exists in spring

April 7th: Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Ulysses 

April 8th: Lord Bryon & Alicia Ostriker Discuss Dogs

April 9th: Elizabeth Browning: Sonnet 14

April 10th: Stone’s Master of Disguise and Charles Bukowski

April 11th: Margaret Atwood: Backdrop addresses cowboy

April 12th: Wallace Stevens: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

April 13th: John Donne: A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning

April 14th: Amy Lowell: A London Thoroughfare. 2 A.M. & Percy Shelley: Mutability

April 15th: James Wright: A Blessing

April 16th: Patricia Lockwood: The Hypno-Domme Speaks, and Speaks and Speaks

April 17th: Ballast Point’s Black Marlin & Evelyn Duncan’s Picking Up

April 18th: Walt Whitman: Out of the Rolling Ocean, the Crowd

April 19th: Gwendolyn Brooks: We Real Cool

April 20th: WB Yeats: The Second Coming

April 21st: Lucille Clifton: my dream about the second coming

April 22nd: Maxine Kumin: After Love

April 23rd: Adrienne Rich: Dreamwood

April 24th: Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA & Pasternak’s Hops

April 25th: Nikki Giovanni: The Laws of Motion

April 26th: Langston Hughes: Theme for English B

April 27th: Carol Ann Duffy: Whatever

April 28th: Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Wreck of the Deutschland

April 29th:

April 30th:

29 comments

  1. Pingback: Naomi Shihab Nye: The Words Under the Words | The Ultimate Penultimate
  2. Pingback: Sylvia Plath: Blackberrying | The Ultimate Penultimate
  3. Pingback: Emily Dickinson: A Light exists in Spring | The Ultimate Penultimate
  4. Pingback: Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Ulysses | The Ultimate Penultimate
  5. Pingback: Edwin Morgan: Good Friday | The Ultimate Penultimate
  6. Pingback: Lord Bryon & Alicia Ostriker Discuss Dogs | The Ultimate Penultimate
  7. Pingback: Elizabeth Browning: Sonnet 14 | The Ultimate Penultimate
  8. Pingback: Stone’s Master of Disguise and Charles Bukowski | The Ultimate Penultimate
  9. Pingback: Margaret Atwood: Backdrop addresses cowboy | The Ultimate Penultimate
  10. Pingback: Wallace Stevens: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird | The Ultimate Penultimate
  11. Pingback: John Donne: A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning | The Ultimate Penultimate
  12. Pingback: Amy Lowell: A London Thoroughfare. 2 A.M. | The Ultimate Penultimate
  13. Pingback: Percy Shelley: Mutability | The Ultimate Penultimate
  14. Pingback: James Wright: A Blessing | The Ultimate Penultimate
  15. Pingback: Patricia Lockwood: The Hypno-Domme Speaks, and Speaks and Speaks | The Ultimate Penultimate
  16. Pingback: Ballast Point’s Black Marlin & Evelyn Duncan’s Picking Up | The Ultimate Penultimate
  17. Pingback: Walt Whitman: Out of the Rolling Ocean, the Crowd | The Ultimate Penultimate
  18. Pingback: WB Yeats: The Second Coming | The Ultimate Penultimate
  19. Pingback: Lucille Clifton: my dream about the second coming | The Ultimate Penultimate
  20. Pingback: Maxine Kumin: After Love | The Ultimate Penultimate
  21. Pingback: Adrienne Rich: Dreamwood | The Ultimate Penultimate
  22. Pingback: Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA & Pasternak’s Hops | The Ultimate Penultimate
  23. Pingback: Nikki Giovanni: The Laws of Motion | The Ultimate Penultimate
  24. Pingback: Langston Hughes: Theme for English B | The Ultimate Penultimate
  25. Pingback: Carol Ann Duffy: Whatever | The Ultimate Penultimate
  26. Pingback: Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Wreck of the Deutschland | The Ultimate Penultimate
  27. Pingback: Valerie Gillies: To My Surgeon | The Ultimate Penultimate
  28. Pingback: Elizabeth Bishop: Filling Station | The Ultimate Penultimate
  29. Pingback: Taking a Step Back | The Ultimate Penultimate

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