dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Posts tagged ‘red’

InspiRED

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. –Thomas A. Edison

I sat down at my desk on Saturday (my morning outdoor projects were complete and I had the house all to myself) to work on “The Sonnet”. The poem that I have procrastinated, that has been a problem to write, that has plagued me. I pored over my notes about Solomon and The Song of Songs, quotes from those scriptures; the notes on Valentine, his resistance to Claudius, his beheading; the notes concerning the coming of Christ. I read through my lists of rhymes; I scoured them looking for connections. I drew lines at the top of a blank sheet to indicate iambic pentameter.  Back and forth between the three notebooks that contain a couple pages each of penciled notes and a file on Inkpad Notepad. How do I start? What words do I rhyme? Why am I doing this to myself?

And then I saw them. Two words. Two words that weren’t even on the same line. They were drawn to each other. The first just one blue line down and to the left of the second written in #2 pencil on legal pad yellow. “wisdom”. “song”. And the next word flowed out like it belonged. “sung”.

I HAVE THE START OF A LINE.

And then I notice a quote from The Song. “I am sick of love.” And the line almost finished itself.

“Wisdom’s song sung from sickened heart.”

But is it iamic pentameter? Close enough. Next line. What are some common elements of these three subjects? Fire? Plague? Losing one’s head? Where was that quote from Solomon?

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.

Song of Solomon 8:6

Okay. Flame, also connected with end-time scenarios. How do I connect them? Plagues are also a part of the final days. Somehow St. Valentine is a patron saint of plagues. And there’s the line from Solomon, “I am sick of love.” How do I…

And then the next line just seemed to materialize from the tip of the pencil lead.

“plagued with fever of most vehement flame”

But the end words “heart” and “flame” aren’t even in any of my lists of rhyming words. There’s a new challenge. But now I have a direction. Now I have two lines that I didn’t have before. My 1% of inspiration. Back to perspiring.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

More RED Between the Lines

“Solomon, Saint Valentine, & the Coming of Christ”. The as yet started (as in actual lines of poetry) sonnet, referred to henceforth as “The Sonnet”. I told you I would let you into the process of this poem, so here’s more process.

The following are my notes in one file concerning “The Sonnet”. (In front of me are two small legal pads with some notes, there’s the Inkpad file with the outline, and I know I have a few sheets of paper scattered around here somewhere with more scribblings for “The Sonnet”.) These notes are ‘as is’:

Solomon, Saint Valentine, & the Coming of Christ: A Communion

a.    Delights of human love/celebration of love
b.    Lost his head in love
a.     “sick of love”/”a most vehement flame”
b

b.    Flower-crowned skull
c.    Plague/epilepsy
b
c

c.    Loved not their lives to the beheading death
d.    Coming with fire
c
d.

e.    Bread and wine (1 Cor 10:17; )
e.    Consummate/Holy of Holies

The two small legal pads contain notes from scripture concerning Solomon and the coming of Christ, as well as some short historical notes on Valentine (I provided links in my post “RED, shall I compare thee…?“). There are also lists of rhyming words: marry, tarry, bury; married, parried, serried; fire, pyre, desire; faint, saint, restraint; plague, vague, egg; behead, dead, bread. The lists are much longer; these are some of the highlighted, more likely to be used from those lists.

So now I have to find the right rhymes to fit the thought of each stanza and fit those thoughts into iambic pentameter without sounding stilted or forced, natural. NO PROBLEM.

But pulling out the notes, looking at them again (and again…and again), explaining out loud on (I was going to type ‘on paper’) screen what I need to accomplish is one step closer to the completed poem.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Chants of Being RED

When I started this project, I wanted to incorporate different forms; some that I’m familiar with, others I’ve never tried. Of course I use a lot of free verse, there are the list poems that I enjoy writing, the ghazal and the unfinished sonnet. What else should I use in this collection of red?

Thinking about the line “feast of martyrs” in “Red“, which apparently in Catholic tradition is symbolized by the color red, my mind went to Gregorian chants. That would be cool. But alas, in my research I found that Gregorian chant is not really a poetic form. You can chant just about anything: the Psalms, the book of Numbers, an owners manual for a Volkswagen, a grocery list. Not what I’m looking for. Further study of chants led me to African chants and those being brought to the Americas through the slave trade. These chants are a call and response. This may work.

Occasionally, I’ll throw some Spanish or Latin or some other language into a poem. I don’t speak them, I just like the sounds and sometimes it’s needed. (I have a small collection of language dictionaries of languages I’ll probably never speak.) Living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, I’m aware of the rich history and cultures of the area, including Gullah. Gullah are directly related to the Africans brought to the South as slaves for the rice plantations. The language is a creole and is in use today.

I wrote the poem first in English with a short Latin refrain. I then translated it into Gullah using De Nyew Testament from the American Bible Society. The refrain is Yiddish. I don’t know if it’s an accurate translation, perhaps it may need polishing. Anyone who knows Gullah, any input welcome.

First the English version:

Feast of Martyrs: Plain Chant

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who shall feed on the feast sublime?
Those who have eaten the bread and wine.
Those who have lived on bread and wine.

Who receives strong meat of the word?
Those who have learned what us evil and good.
Those who can discern the evil and the good.

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who is worthy to drink of His cup?
Those who are humble and do not lift themselves up.
Any who serves and who does not lift himself up.

Who will not taste death? Who shall partake of the kingdom reign?
Those that take up the cross and show not shame.
Those that deny themselves and lose their life for His name.

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who is a sweet smell in the nostril of God?
Those who sacrifice for others, those who show love.
Those who give themselves for others, sacrificial love.

Who is it that pleases God?
All that believe and know His reward.
They that believe Him and know He rewards.

dies mortis
dies natalis

And now the Gullah version, the title is Haitian Creole (thank you Google Translate):

Fet nan Mati: Plen Chante

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat be et de feas ob heaben?
Dey dat be etin de bread and de wine.
Dey dat libe off ob bread and wine.

Who dat git de solid food?
Dem wa laan wa ebil an wa good.
Dem wa know de diffunce twixt de ebil an de good.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat fit for ta drink ob E cup?
Dem wat take low. Dem wa ain’t pit demsef op.
Dem wa saabe and ain’t pit demsef op.

Who dat be ain gwine dead? Who gwine nyam een God nation?
E dat tote da cross. E ain for shame.
E dat dohn do jes wa e wahn. E dat giib e life fa God name.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat be dat smell sweet ta da nose ob God?
Dem dat sacrifice fa odas, dat gii lob.
Dey dat gii ob desef fa odas, all de time lob.

Who dat be dat be pleasing God?
All dem dat belieb. Dem dat know what E got.
Dem dat belieb Um. Dem know Um gibe tings dat be good.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

At the Center of RED 3

There’s an old seafaring saying,

“Red sky at night,
sailor’s delight;
red sky in morning,
sailor’s take warning.”

Crimson hues in the evening and there will be smooth sailing the next day. Red shades at dawn meant a storm may be brewing.

This poem takes a different look at the resurrection. How does it impact those who don’t believe. Or shall I say those who will not believe. The Pharisees (the religious community) of Jesus’ day had all the information. They knew the scriptures (so they thought), they were intimately aware of Jesus’ teaching (they knew exactly who he claimed to be), and they had the first hand facts of his resurrection. And yet, they tried to stop it, to cover it up, to pretend it wasn’t real. So, how do you think God will deal with those who intentionally will not believe…

Red Sky in Morning

You remembered better than His own disciples
His promise to rise,
to return.
Command to secure the tomb against theft–
     as if this band of scattered and frightened
     fishermen, tax collectors, and women
     would dare to move against Rome,
     against the established church,
     against their own doubts,
     to steal a bloody corpse
     and perpetuate a lie–
aids authentication.
For your troops had first-hand facts;
they were there when the ground shook
and the stone rolled away
to a dawning revelation.
You paid them off with leftover silver
and promised protection—
from what?
A governor whose days were numbered?
From you who really had more to gain
from the fulfillment of prophecy?
From eleven men who eventually get it?
It’s incredible that the first to believe—
not believe, know—
the truth of resurrection reject it out right.
Your problem did not go away.
Slaying the Lamb did not stop
the awakening of the Lion.

Take warning.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

RED Between the Lines

Okay. Let’s go back to “Solomon, Saint Valentine, & the Coming of Christ”. Since this poem is yet to be completed, I’ll let you inside the process as I go along. This will be a first for me, so it may not be pretty.

As I mentioned in my previous post, “RED, shall I compare thee…?“, this is planned to be a sonnet. There are several forms of sonnets: the Italian or Petrarchan, the English or Shakespearian, the Spenserian, the Miltonic, and modern. I have chosen the Spenserian form because the rhyme scheme (abab bcbc cdcd ee) is interlocking. I want to dovetail these three subjects, intertwine them. That’s what true love and marriage is about. The meshing of two lives into one.

Apart from that, I’m not sure what to tell you. So here are some of the notes and scribblings I have from my research:

These are my original lines for the final couplet. They show my intent of the “interlocking lines”. I probably won’t use them.
e:  And as the interlocking lines of this sonnet song
e:  So too through consummative act, two become one.

A quote from the second-century Jewish rabbi Aquiba concerning the Song of Solomon:

“All the ages are not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel; for all the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.”

According to Catholic.org, the flower-crowned skull of St. Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Apparently, he is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers (?), engaged couples, epilepsy (???), fainting (at weddings?), greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague (???!), travellers, and young people; and he is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

Perhaps my next post about this sonnet will actually contain lines of poetry.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

RED Pornography

Window Shopping in Rosse Buurt

Wandered into the neighborhood
for a bit of self-indulgent window shopping.
Dimly backlit, the wares displayed behind glass:
     living life-like mannequins
     in varying casual pose,
     some in seemingly bored posture,
     stripped to the bare essentials–
     no fancy window dressing–
in window upon glowing window.
The glass returns a vague reflection
emptied of vibrant hue,
subdued by the colored lights
on the other side of the glass.
Tapping for attention…
     slide-stepping to the next window
     occasionally tempted to tap back,
     toying with the intimate decision of purchase
     euros burning a hole
     heart becomes engorged
     beating against itself
     an assault of valves
     a battle lost to the head
     peeking into window after window
     deeper and deeper into De Wallen
     rounding a corner that dead ends
     to nothing,

but a used condom left leaking
on the edge of the end of the sidewalk.

I have been avoiding this post. The topic is not pretty. Not something discussed in polite circles. Certainly not lengthy sermon material. Embarassing. Shameful. And I have personal experience–something I have struggled with off and on throughout my adult life. Pornography and masterbation.

Rosse Buurt is a red light district in Amsterdam where prostitution is legal. This I know only from research, I have never been. But I’ve been on the internet. And as a young boy, I glanced through the glossy pages of magazines the neighbor kid snuck from his dad’s workshop. I’ve allowed lustful fantasies to roam through my thoughts. It’s all around us in the media and programming and advertising. And it’s all empty. It drains creativity and confidence. It leads to nowhere.

Anyone familiar with the teachings of Jesus knows that he spoke against lust. He also spoke specifically against masterbation as well. (He did?) Check out the sermon on the mount in the book of Matthew, chapter 5, verses 27-30. Verse 27 addresses physical adultery. Jesus ramps it up to just looking at a woman (who is not your wife) with lustful thoughts–a matter of the heart. This coincides with pornography, which is all about looking and thinking and fantasizing. Jesus offers a solution in verse 29, pluck out your eye! If you can’t stop, get rid of the instrument causing the offense. Then he offers the same solution in verse 30 for the hand. Why the hand? Yeah. You get it now.

Of course no one wants to mutilate their body–poke out their eyes or cut off their hands. So what’s the solution? It’s a matter of the heart. But the eye needs to see and the hand needs work. Set your eyes upon Jesus. Work works of righteousness. As the writer of Philippians encourages, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

RED, shall I compare thee…?

All but two of the poems for RED are complete: “Red: Revelation”, which will be a sort of summary of all; and “Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ”. The former is not complete because I want to wait until all other poems are finished. The latter is not done because I want to frame it in a sonnet, and for me that is not an easy task; strict forms are not what I normally do.

When one thinks of sonnets, one tends to think of Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, Browning. Big names. The bar is set high. And so it should be. The topic–intimate love, marriage, consummation–is worthy of being set in such a lofty form. But, alas, I have never written a sonnet. Seventeen lines of iambic pentameter. With a rhyme scheme. And a volta (a whata?), or turn, that is supposedly essential to a sonnet. This is a heavy commitment for setting pen to page. As it should be. So is the topic.

I normally write free verse. No meter. No rhyme. Occassionally, when the topic merits, I will use an appropriate form. At least attempt the form. This poem will attempt to compare the “Song of Solomon“, a book about which the second-century Jewish rabbi Aquiba is quoted as saying, “All the ages are not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel; for all the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies”; the martyrdom by beheading of the Catholic priest Valentine for performing marriages of young Christians in Rome; and the marriage feast of the Lamb, the return of Christ for his bride, the Church.

So, yeah. I haven’t got this one done yet.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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