Today was another winter idyll. It convinced me that late winter is the ideal time to launch this anthology: the days are crisp and clear, flocks bleat on the hills, and the pear tree blooms in the valley.
There are fourteen sketches left to develop. It takes me around four weeks to transform drafts into complete poems. Therefore, I project the compositions will be finished next year, about this time.
Protracted, but Appropriate
That would mean two more years before I publish them, if I were to commit to this late-winter launch date. This suits the project, since some time must be spent on producing the handmade books.
Moreover, I intend to devote a considerable amount of time to the creation of items supplementary to the anthology—a year to attend to these suits me well—wherefore I anticipate a launch only in 2022.
Look who blossoms, yet again in mid-winter! Here in South Africa, July is the second month of the season, but the weather is mostly autumnal, with crisp and clear days: misty in the morning, but later sunny.
Seeing the pear tree covered in flowers this early should come as no surprise, yet the sight never ceases to amaze. Naturally, I recited to it “A Pear Tree”—and I think it approved of my modest effort to praise it.
It is winter in my country, South Africa, and one of my favourite sights is the radiance of this road in the rain. When the clouds part, it shines silver in the sunlight—a simple occurrence that is an integral part of my sense of place1.
In the original 2012 version of the poem “Autumn” (my first Romantic work), this scene appeared; but, in the revised 2020 version, instead of the road, it became the river reflecting the sun (to preserve the concept of the stanza).
By “sense of place”, I mean one’s conception of “home”, as shaped by environmental components, such as topography, architectural style, rhythms, rituals, sights and sounds.
Today, I completed “A Pear Tree”, poem 31 in my prospective anthology of 42 lyric poems. A response to a pear tree in early bloom at the beginning of August (the last month of the South African winter), it has two short quatrains gushing over the unusual spectacle. Now that the poem is complete, I can recite it to the tree when it flowers (early again, I hope), this year! This, incidentally, is my first centre-aligned composition—a detail that seems to me wholly appropriate as a reflection of the tree’s symmetry.
When the Southern Double-collared Sunbird male displays to attract a mate—its chief concern, this time of year (mid-winter in South Africa)—it reveals yellow tufts on its shoulders that are usually concealed. So far, I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to photograph it in this state—somehow, it is either too windy, or the bird refuses to keep still, or (as was the case yesterday) the light conspires against me. This was the best of yesterday’s set, with heavy adjustment to the shadows to make the feathers in question visible.
Though the Overberg—a region in the Western Cape province of South Africa—is in the midst of winter (June to August), the weather was autumnal and the countryside serene: the sun was shining, the air was crisp; all about me was still, except for the gentle bleating of ewes with their lambs and the occasional whistling of stonechats on the wire fences. Is it any wonder, I thought, the pear tree blooms a month before the spring?
Beside the dirt road that leads to the hamlet where I live, a pear tree stands alone at the edge of a field. Every year, it blooms at the beginning of August, a month before the arrival of the South African spring, delighting the passer-by modestly yet spectacularly. In August 2018, I wrote a few rough stanzas in response to that very tree under the working title “A Pear Tree”. Now, nearly two years later, I am ready to develop them into a finished poem.
Of course, the pear tree has inspired a poem. Another new draft—I shall never finish this project! Incidentally, the field where it grows was once an orchard, one of many. In days gone by, my village was known for its pear orchards, earning it the nickname "'Little Pears' Town". pic.twitter.com/YSDy67a7gu
I am stunned by how easily and quickly “O, How Free is the Wind!” has developed into a finished work—as if it composed itself! Regardless of length, it usually takes four to five weeks for my compositions to come together, but this poem has taken one!
Following an AAB C DDB C rhyming scheme in staggered lines, there are two stanzas, each describing a mood of the wind: in the first, it is placid; in the second, full of life. Each stanza concludes with a separated exclamation—the title, that of the second.