CJ Dennis, CS Lewis, guest host, Mutton, nose, On Being Human, scents, sense of smell
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.
Welcome everyone to a world of scents! I look forward to reading your poems about scents. Jo will join us later as she lives in the other part of the world. Thanks for the challenge Jo.
Good evening from the UK, dVerse Poets, and thank you Jo for hosting with a fragrant prompt. I have two poems to share this evening: one small new poem, a nonet written especially for the prompt, and a medium-sized old poem from July 2020. I’m looking forward to reading and inhaling other poets’ words.
Good afternoon from Ontario Kim. Looking forward to reading and inhaling your 2 poems.
Great! Thanks, Kim! I have just woken up and will begin sniffing out your poems shortly!
Björn Rudberg (brudberg) said:
I looked back to what I have written and also remember that this was a topic in a poetry workshop I attended a few years ago with poet Moira Egan
Hi Bjorn. What an interesting workshop with the poet herself. I normally associate scent with something nice and fragrant, but do recognize there are unpleasant scents as well.
I wonder if you’ll use your previous poem or write something new? I hope you don’t mind the repeat. I will have to check out Moira Egan’s work too. I’m not familiar with it.
Thank you for hosting, Jo and Grace. I’ve linked two poems, one written today and one written in 2020. Both fit the theme. Hope you enjoy. 🙂
Thanks for joining in! Looking forward to reading them.
Linda Lee Lyberg said:
Hi Jo, and thank you for hosting!
Hi Linda! Hope all is well.
Hello Grace and Jo and All. Since my bike ride yesterday was full of difference scents it was the natural choice to write to. Good topic and welcome as guest host.
Hi Lisa. Looking forward to reading it.
Thanks much, Grace.
Loved the prompt! Thank you so much for hosting, Grace and Jo 😀 I am looking forward to reading the responses. Happy Tuesday ❤❤
Happy Tuesday Sanaa! I will hitting the poetry trail myself.
Hi Jo! So good to see you here.
Wonderful prompt. Thanks for hosting.
Hi Punam. Great to see you!
Once again, my entry is in five languages. Though it may seem nonsensical, it does refer to the smell of summer.
Thanks for joining in.
a.h. starlingsson said:
Very interesting, nice presentation, thanks..
Thanks Ain. Hope you are fine.
Cheers Jo! I will have a bite of everything you are serving … and a Crankshaft IPA please.
Welcome, Jo! What an interesting progression of smells you have produced! Life without smell would be rather tasteless. Excuse my silliness. Thanks for hosting this evening!
Hi Dwight! Thanks for joining in. A little bit of fun is good!
Yes it is!
M Jay Dixit said:
Hello, Grace and Jo. Wonderful prompt, took me back to my childhood days, loved it. Hearty thanks!
Thanks Jay for joining in. This prompt also brought me back to my childhood days.
Leyde Ryan said:
Leyde Ryan said:
You’re most welcome!
Hi All, I have so enjoyed reading everybody’s work. Such a variety of responses! It was totally surprising and inspiring! I had better sit down and write my own!! There were a couple I failed to comment on though, even although I read them and tried. Carol, I did comment on yours but I came through as Mrs Clause – it’s to do with an email address. Long Story. And Grace I tried so many times and ways to comment on yours but I couldn’t! And Gillena, you use the same site as Grace, I think, and I couldn’t even find out how to bring up a space to comment. I am not your most technical Worm. 🙂
Hi Jo. Thanks for trying to comment on blogger sites. If you have a google account, you can comment via there. I also my site to accept anon comments; anyway, glad to read that you are enjoying a variety of responses. Inspiring prompts lead to inspired writing.
Hi Jo & Grace,
Thanks for hosting. This prompt took me back to my favorite scent from childhood😊
Hi Pat. Good to see you!
Hi Jo, many thanks for this opportunity to plumb the depths of the sensuous (Paul, Western Australia)
Thanks for joining in Paul. Both of you and Jo are from Australia.
Rob Kistner said:
Hello all! 🙂 Fascinating prompt Jo, thank you — and thank you for hosting Grace. Couldn’t get here yesterday, I was lost in my favorite daydream — to which I’ve taken us with my piece today. 🌲✌🏼❤️
Good to see you Rob. Have a wonderful day/night!
Sorry I’m a bit late with the prompt guys. But I’ll share it here anyways for ye’re perusal! Hope that ye enjoy! 🤞🙏😁