A Fruitful, if Fanciful Origin of Poetry

Thursday 12 July 2007 8 responses

Once upon a time, Edgar Allen Poe pondered, weak and weary
from staying up late past a midnight dreary, thinking how quaint
and curious that many a volume was now forgotten lore. While he
nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as of
some one gently rapping, rapping at his noggin’s door. “’Tis an
apple!” Poe then muttered, “Falling on my head before. Only this—
but damn it’s sore!”

He was right—the apple had left a gash, and Poe’s head was
bleeding. However, this was just the nogginly nudge he needed to
move past writing more forgotten lore to his new way of writing.
It would become known for it’s inventor, the poe-m, and the art of
crafting it for the source of it’s inspiration, the poet-tree. And just
as Poe’s head was now red, just as an apple is red, so would the
new art form become fruitful and be read.

And fruit would remain a theme as the art grew more complex.
Blake wrote a pear of poems, “The Lamb” and “The Tyger.” He was
also concerned about the health of the trees, recording in “A
Poison Tree” his efforts to “[water] it in fears, night and morning
with my tears…and it grew both day and night, till it bore an apple

Other poets were concerned with the trees, noting the weather.
Percy Bysshe Cherry, I think it was, wrote an “Ode to the West
Wind”: “Destroyer and preserver; hear, O hear!” [Given that his
wife was occupied writing about monsters and society, we can
appreciate his concern.] Williams Carlos Williams was also
concerned, noting in “Spring and All” “small trees with dead,
brown leaves,“ relieved by “the profound change” when “rooted,
they grip down and begin to awaken.”

Williams was really more concerned with possession,
preservation and consumption of fruit, though, as he shows
in “This is Just to Say”:

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Not everyone protects their fruit so carefully. I once had to post
this on my department’s break room fridge (titled “This is
Just Dismay”):

I have discarded
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were evidently
for eternity

Forgive me
they were decomposing
so soft
and so old

But even less high-brow forms of poetry, such as song lyrics, are
concerned with enjoying tree fruits, like this excerpt from The
Eagles (or Linda Ronstadt):

Why don’t you come to our senses?

and in a later verse:

Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table

Nor is the avocado the only tropical fruit featured in poetry. After
all, when we really like something, it has “appeal.” Consider Gary
Soto’s “Oranges,” where he notes that the first time he walked with
a girl, he had two oranges in his jacket. And Frank O’Hara
appreciates the inspiration he gets from oranges, even just their
color, in “Why I Am Not a Painter”:

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
"Sit down and have a drink" he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. "You have SARDINES in it."
"Yes, it needed something there."
"Oh." I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. "Where's SARDINES?"
All that's left is just
letters, "It was too much," Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven't mentioned
orange yet. It's twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike's painting, called SARDINES.

Not all poets write about fruit trees, of course, but they still retain
their attachment to trees, as Frost shows us in “Birches”:

I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.


author's bio

I teach professional writing (business writing and creative non-fiction), literature, and composition full-time for the State University of New York, and I'm also a freelance writer.

you can read more of Writer's works at Writing True

8 responses: to “ A Fruitful, if Fanciful Origin of Poetry so far...

  • Kim 12.7.07

    I really liked the structure of this work and the novel way in which you have introduced the origin of Poetry....a very humorous. witty and clever work....
    thank you for your contribution Writer !!!!!

  • Snoskred 13.7.07

    Hi, I'm reading you via the Australian Blogs Community at Bumpzee, on the RSS feed. Just dropping by to welcome you to the Australian Blogs Community, and to let you know I have just updated the Australian Blogs Community HTML links list file to include your blog, if you want to put it on your blog you can get a copy of it here -

    http://fraudstars.info/~snoskred/aussieatoz.txt - A to Z
    http://fraudstars.info/~snoskred/aussieztoa.txt - Z to A (The down-under version!)

    The list is updated weekly to include new blogs.

    In case you didn't know, anytime you post the first 250 characters go out on the RSS feed, so I'll be reading more from you soon. :) and I've updated my sidebar to the new list, so I'm linking to you now. I also mention you on Sunday in my weekly wrap up post. ;)

    Once again, Welcome to the Australian Blogs Community!


  • Kim 13.7.07

    thanks for that Snoskred...will do .....

  • Anonymous 13.7.07

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  • eagerblogger 13.7.07

    I really enjoyed this. Can't help smiling... :)

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  • Mustafa Şenalp 15.7.07

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  • Kim 15.7.07

    thanks to everyone for your comments !!!!
    regards Kim