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Hi everyone!   Please welcome Dora as our guest host for today’s poetics prompt. ~Grace

“Lights” by Michael Whelan, Acrylic on watercolor board, 1991

“Lights” by Michael Whelan, Acrylic on watercolor board, 1991

Hello, fellow dVerse poets-in-arms! I can feel the brightening of your muses as I write this and am immensely grateful for the privilege of invigorating those poetic lights.

We all feel it this time of year as autumn peaks and rushes on, the gathering crescendo that ends with a bang on New Year’s, Christmas, Hannukah or whatever tradition or celebration you choose to celebrate, when all the hurly-burly of the shopping season finally fades away.

For many, the onset of the celebratory season is just that: a time to shop till you drop. For others, it is a reflective time of faith or doubt or both.

In this vein, the great poet Sylvia Plath’s “The Moon and the Yew Tree” comes to mind.

The Moon and the Yew Tree

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary.
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place.
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky–
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up, it has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness –
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars
Inside the church, the saints will all be blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness–blackness and silence.

How I would like to believe in tenderness –“ As Vijay Seshadri, poetry editor of The Paris Review, has said of this still point in the poem:

[In terms of rhetorical sensitivity] the turn in the poem . . . comes in the third stanza: “the moon. / The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary. / Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.”…. And then the subtle shift, which is where the feeling of the poem kind of rises for a moment: “How I would like to believe in tenderness.” And that kind of comes out of nowhere in this kind of very stately rhetorical movement of simple sentences and declarations, you know, and that’s the turn in the poem. But you hardly notice it.

The turn in the poem is what I’d like us to reflect on. In the middle of the hurly-burly of shopping or preparing for guests or the holiday gatherings, sometimes we experience an unexpected flash of inner yearning where we pause in that twilight world, a moment of peace or epiphany, in the breakneck search for gifts or a moment between faith and doubt, belief and unbelief.

Today I’d like you to write about such a moment in the context of its occurrence (shopping, socializing, celebrating, religious observance), a moment of epiphany.

An epiphany, writes critic X. J. Kennedy, is “some moment of insight, discovery, or revelation by which a character’s life, or view of life, is greatly altered.” Epiphany is from the Greek, epiphainein, “to show forth.” (James Joyce, for example, describes epiphanies in everyday life, using stream-of-consciousness in “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” mixing memories, associations, moral/ideological/religious issues.)

So in the middle of all the holiday activity, whatever it may be, imagine a moment of pausing, a still point of epiphany. Perhaps in that moment, you imagine the upshot of all that shopping and experience a revelation. Or on that DMZ line of the soul’s religious yearning, an unexpected moment of truth. You can write using any poetic form, whatever suits.
What would having an epiphany during this holiday season look like for you (or someone you know or imagine)?

As always, follow these simple rules in order to take part:

  • Write a poem in response to the challenge.
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    back later in order to read their poems.
  • Read and comment on other poets’ work– we all come here to have our poems read.
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The bar is open!
About our guest host:  Dora A-K’s bio

Dora fell in love with poetry only after her teachers stopped forcing her to memorize it, her first assignment being Shakespeare’s Mark Antony’s funeral oration at the age of 5. Given the freedom to choose what she liked (mostly), there was no stopping her and a whole new world opened up, but she didn’t actually try to write any herself until college. Afterwards, writing was confined to diaries, as career, marriage, motherhood and, sad to say, a debilitating auto-immune disease took over. Under the urging of her husband, she took up writing poetry again eight years ago as a means to relieving the chronic pain and stress of RA. And it has. And it does, connecting her with so many wonderful poets and writers at the same time through blogging. Find her main blog at PilgrimDreams.com.