Hi everyone! Please welcome our guest host for today’s Poetics, Jo.
Hi, I’m Jo (more commonly known as “Worms”) from the blog “Out of the Cave”. Grace kindly invited me to meet you all at the bar tonight and dream up a poetic challenge. So here I am with an antipodean menu of lamb chops with mash & peas and there’s a choice of lamingtons or pavlova (covered in whipped cream and fresh kiwi fruit) for dessert. May inspiration flow as fast as the VB!
Recently I walked with my husband up a nearby hill. We took our little dog with us. As is the way with dogs, his focus was all in his nose. He ran with head down, sniffing bushes and leaving his own pongy messages. Every now and then he would stand with his head into the breeze, his little black nostrils quivering energetically. I wondered what messages his brain was receiving and it set me thinking about how different the world would be if our main sensory input was through our nose, rather than through our eyes.
I did a bit of googling and on a website called carecredit I learned a few things. Apparently dogs have around fifty times as many smell sensors as humans and, furthermore their nostrils have a separating flap to allow the breathing function to be independent of the smelling function. How cool is that?!
Many years ago I read “Perfume”, a novel by Patrick Suskind. The story follows Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an orphan in 18th-century France who is born with an exceptional sense of smell. Grenouille becomes a perfumer but his talent takes a violent turn when he encounters a young girl who smells wonderful and he imagines the power of bottling her amazing scent.
It is fascinating to ponder how powerful the sense of smell really is. Below is some information from an article in The Harvard Gazette:
“Smells are handled by the olfactory bulb, the structure in the front of the brain that sends information to the other areas of the body’s central command for further processing. Odors take a direct route to the limbic system, including the amygdala and the hippocampus, the regions related to emotion and memory.”
Harvard’s Professor Goldworm explains further. “…that smell is the only fully developed sense a fetus has in the womb, and it’s the one that is the most developed in a child through the age of around 10 when sight takes over. And because “smell and emotion are stored as one memory,” said Goldworm, childhood tends to be the period in which you create “the basis for smells you will like and hate for the rest of your life.”
Turning to smell in poetry, here is a lovely excerpt from On Being Human by CS Lewis
They see the Form of Air; but mortals breathing it
Drink the whole summer down into the breast.
The lavish pinks, the field new-mown, the ravishing
Sea-smells, the wood-fire smoke that whispers Rest.
The tremor on the rippled pool of memory
That from each smell in widening circles goes,
The pleasure and the pang –can angels measure it?
An angel has no nose.
You can read the whole poem here.
And from Aussie poet CJ Dennis another smelly excerpt:
In the middle of the summer, when the town is limp with heat,
And the asphalt of the footpath curls your boots and burns your feet:
When you’re creased and crabbed and sodden, and can hardly raise a crawl,
And the perspiration’s drippin’ in a constant waterfall;
There’s a penetratin’ odor gets abroad and fairly roars;
It will creep in through the keyholes and it sneaks beneath the doors;
And it fills your happy home up from the cellar to the roof,
Until ev’ry other odor holds its breath and stands aloof.
That’s Mutton! Mutton!
All-pervadin’, never-fadin’ smell of cookin’ sheep.
Into ev’ry room ’twill roam, chasin’ you from house and home,
Mutton flaunted, mutton-haunted, even in your sleep.
And you can read the rest of that poem here.
And so I thought it might be fun to focus our poetry today on the sense of smell. Imagine you are, like a dog, endowed with an excellent sniffing snout. Take a walk in your favourite park or down the hall of your house or with a favourite person (or a least favourite person) and imagine what your nose could tell you if it was super-powered. Imagine yourself on a mountain in a breeze or in a rocket on your way to Mars with nine other humans who haven’t showered properly for 2 months.
Or imagine a feast or something foul or what you’d learn from ferreting about on the forest floor.
Tonight’s challenge, if you choose it accept it, is to write a poem of scents. I hope you enjoy it!
Here’s how to join in:
- Post a poem of scents to your blog or website.
- Click on Mr. Linky. Copy and paste the direct link to your poem and add your name.
- Follow the links to other poets. Read and comment on other poems. We all appreciate feedback on our poems.
- Link back to dVerse so others can find us too.
- Have fun!
Josephine lives in Canberra, Australia. She has published “Journey: A Cancer Story” a Chapbook with Picaro Press, been included “Visual Verse Anthology” – Vol. 09 Chapter 07 and had two poems in “Wounds I Healed – Poetry of Strong Women” – the #1 Amazon Bestseller produced by Gabriela Milton and Ingrid Wilson. You can see more of Josephine’s work at https://outofthecave.blog.