String Bean Hill [Nocturne No. 1]

June 25, 2016

As clover was the perfect cover
for a fallow bean field,
it seemed the beans were
an afterthought, pressed into
the ground by the subtlest foot
on the subtlest evening of the year.
It seemed the string beans cheated the land
as they lay fallow in the darkness,
Yet truth is often expressed
in terms of string beans in a green field
growing straight and narrow
against a backdrop of clover and light.
On string bean hill
we fell asleep in a moonlight so awesome
we forgot the green of day as it lay in wait
for us under the dark ancestral sky


4 Responses to “String Bean Hill [Nocturne No. 1]”

  1. John Looker Says:

    I like the thought that this is a ‘vitalized’ poem! The spell check got something right for once!

  2. extrasimile Says:

    Yes, John, you are definitely on the right track with this one. In fact, you help me read the poem myself. The italics is not a quote. It is used only to indicate another voice speaking. Wordsworth is by no means my favorite poet, but yes, it does fit the last ‘vitalized’ part. (what my spell check came up with when I tried to type out ‘italicized’) (There is room for this in poetry.) The use of the word nocturne may be a little misleading. I was watching a documentary on Whistler’s Nocturnes and it sort of crept into my poem. On the other hand, half my poetry could be called a nocturne. I think it may have more to do with previous poetry than future poetry—which I never plan (well, almost never.) And, yes, I do see what you mean. It is a little more approachable than most of my poetry. Thanks for the insight.

  3. John Looker Says:

    Whoops — I meant tranquil emotional recollection of course.

  4. John Looker Says:

    This, Jim, is beautiful and moving. There is a mysterious quality about it – it raises such questions as who are we and what are we doing on this hill in the moonlight – but the reader can easily enter the scene, feel the night air and consider the conundrum of the vegetation and ponder it as a metaphor.
    I follow all your poems with interest as you know, and even the obscure ones are rewarding because I recognise the undercurrents of thought and wide reading that are stirring in the depths of imagination. This one probably has no greater claim to being philosophical but it is more hospitable to a new reader. And that image of the beans growing below the clover is vivid and wonderful. Different readers might well apply it to their own lives in differing ways, but the image is going to do its work with them all.
    I find your use of italics at the end to be striking. It could signify that you are quoting but if so I don’t recognise the source. I read it as simply the recollection of the speaker, one of the ‘we’. In that way it concludes the poem with a tranquil emotional reflection (Wordsworth comes to mind, I’m sorry to say) while the argument of the poem has been presented in the penultimate quatrain. That works so well for me: the thought (dispassionate) then the feeling (imprecise and expanding) which then lingers … and lingers. Exhilarating poem!

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