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Silent Poem -- Robert Francis

       
(Poem #323) Silent Poem
backroad leafmold stonewall chipmunk
underbrush grapevine woodchuck shadblow

woodsmoke cowbarn honeysuckle woodpile
sawhorse bucksaw outhouse wellsweep

backdoor flagstone bulkhead buttermilk
candlestick ragrug firedog brownbread

hilltop outcrop cowbell buttercup
whetstone thunderstorm pitchfork steeplebush

gristmill millstone cornmeal waterwheel
watercress buckwheat firefly jewelweed

gravestone groundpine windbreak bedrock
weathercock snowfall starlight cockcrow
-- Robert Francis
What can you say about a poem like this? A beautifully simple idea,
executed to perfection... I found it while surfing the net just the
other day, and I've been entranced by it ever since.

thomas.

52 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Amit Chakrabarti said...

For scrabblers, here's a dictionary based annotation of the poem. After
all, a poem
with a vocab# like this is asking for it! Explanation for the ignorami$
reading this:

A word ending in '$' is acceptable only in the U.S. dictionary (OSPD).
A word ending in '#' is acceptable only in the British dictionary (OSW).

A word ending in '*' is acceptable in neither.
An unmarked word is acceptable in both.

Okay, here we go:

backroad* leafmold* stonewall chipmunk
underbrush grapevine woodchuck shadblow

woodsmoke* cowbarn* honeysuckle woodpile
sawhorse bucksaw outhouse wellsweep*

backdoor$ flagstone bulkhead buttermilk
candlestick ragrug* firedog brownbread*

hilltop outcrop cowbell buttercup
whetstone thunderstorm pitchfork steeplebush$

gristmill$ millstone cornmeal$ waterwheel
watercress buckwheat firefly jewelweed

gravestone groundpine* windbreak bedrock
weathercock snowfall starlight cockcrow$

I believe one may safely conclude that the author is American!

Martin DeMello said...

In response to an observation that the poem "Draws a picture. But doesn't move
me."...

Hm - I liked it. First off, I love compound words, both real and invented -
they seem so much more evocative than the corresponding separated pairs
(e.g. 'watersmeet', 'starseed', 'heartsease'). Also, the poem itself (in
conjunction with the title, which I think was an important part in that it
gave you a hint as to how to read the rest) conjured up images of a quiet
walk down a country lane, when the world seems empty of the sounds and
sights of civilisation, and you notice all sorts of things you never would
have otherwise. Reading the poem, I could feel all the little details being
painted in around me, bringing the scene to life. Moving in a contemplative
sort of way, to say nothing of the thrill I got from seeing the concept
pulled off.

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