Developing “Little Evening Lily”

Gladiolus liliaceus, 12 September 2020. Copyright 2020 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
The reddish-brown variant of Gladiolus liliaceus—also known as the Aandpypie (Afrikaans, “Little Evening Pipe”), Ribbokblom (Afrikaans, “Rhebok-flower”) or Large Brown Afrikaner—its petals still tinged with purple, the colour it assumes at sundown with a mesmerising scent to attract pollinators, often until late morning. Photographed 12 September 2020.

Four separate poems are emerging from the “Little Evening Lily” sketch. They are variations on the same theme, born from the many stanza experiments whilst developing the composition.

It should come as no surprise that there is such an outpouring of verse on the subject—the lily in question, Gladiolus liliaceus, is my favourite flower1—but, I am nonetheless amazed.

I am also intimidated, as I wonder whether the four poems will be worthy of their subject, and frustrated, as this further delays the anthology’s completion (likely by four months, given my pace)2.

  1. If I might do a little introspection: I associate Gladiolus liliaceus with the joy of my mother in spring (September to November in my country, South Africa) when it appears in the wild. Moreover, it evokes the happiest time of my childhood at age eight and nine in the Babilonstoring Valley—of which I have written before in “This September”, “This October”, “This November” and “A Return to the Valley”—when I recall her displaying the lilies on the kitchen table of the little labourer’s cottage we inhabited at the time, its intoxicating fragrance filling the room at night.
  2. I typically spend a month on a poem.

A Poemlet Discarded

A Blustery Day Offshoot Discarded, 30 October 2020. Copyright 2020 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.

I have discarded the offshoot poem of “A Choir of Pine”. I am confident that in the parent poem, I have expressed the theme to my satisfaction; the different style of the offshoot seems to me insufficient justification for its existence, rendering it redundant.

I shall now proceed to the next sketch, “That Is All”: a celebration of the sights and sounds of my rural surroundings, much like “Over the Mountain” before it.

Its form and working title were inspired by “Dis Al”1, a sombre poem by Jan F. E. Celliers who in brief, swaying metre expresses the sorrow of an exiled soldier returned. It is an unexpected beginning for my cheerful theme, but who dictates to the muse?

  1. Pronounced [diss ull], Afrikaans for “that’s all”.

Poetry Publication Progress (2020-10-30)

Another Poemlet

A Blustery Day Offshoot, 17 October 2020. Copyright 2020 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
The structure of “A Blustery Day” (left) and that of the offshoot poem (right).

I am currently developing “A Blustery Day”, a poem first outlined in late August 2018, and like “A Late Winter Morning”, it has unexpectedly produced an offshoot poem.

As I began developing the sketch into a first draft, four short stanzas emerged. These, in an experiment, I tried to condense into two, which worked splendidly; however, their structure so differed from that of the main poem that they could not be incorporated there, justifying a separate composition.

I shall develop this offshoot alongside the main poem as I did “A Chat” alongside “A Late Winter Morning”. If the outcome is satisfactory, I shall include it in the anthology.