Today’s poetry challenge
Comes from one of my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda. His poem, “Ode to My Socks” in an example of the poetic form that we will tackle today. It is easier than the sestina, I hope…
Neruda uses bold descriptions with “salt of the earth” connotations.
His poetry is dense and artistic while accessible to a wide audience. Passionate, colorful descriptions pepper his work. Allusions to common, everyday substances and activities abound.
Reading his memoirs, rich, lush descriptions evoke images of the Chilean countryside. Reading his poetry does the same. His many odes create loving relationships with my simple pleasures. As a form, the ode is dedication to something that is dearly loved.
From poets.org, ““Ode” comes from the Greek aeidein, meaning to sing or chant, and belongs to the long and varied tradition of lyric poetry. Originally accompanied by music and dance, and later reserved by the Romantic poets to convey their strongest sentiments, the ode can be generalized as a formal address to an event, a person, or a thing not present” (para 1).
But, poetic forms adapt through the years. Neruda takes these loving tributes and applies them to everyday items, like socks and salt. One of my favorite writers, Roger Housden, in Ten Poems to Change your Life, says, “His (Neruda) odes, too, lead us toward the divine—but the divine that is right in front of our noses (67). These descriptions are memorable, insightful and accurate.
An excerpt from Neruda’s “Ode to My Socks”, the last few lines, for example, encapsulate the purpose of the ode which is to pay homage to a beloved object.
“The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.”
Earlier stanzas describe how these very special socks transform feet.
I gave a great deal of thought to what I would pay homage. I wanted to layer my ode with meanings, image and connotation. So…my ode is to my coffee. I attempted to emulate Neruda with varied metaphors, word choices and rich language.
Ode to my Coffee
My coffee pleases me
Like no other love.
The Sun eeks its welcome
Pushing bright faces beyond
Cloudy hisses of smoke.
My coffee’s thick aroma
Seeks my brain through
My silver spoon pokes
From my white ceramic mug.
Ready to swirl white dollops of
Creamy circles -caramel brownish
Delicious hues. Steam tickles my nose.
Settling in with my Neruda, my socks
And my day, my coffee near.
Slowly, my coffee forces sparks.
Bright flashes of knowing.
My heart beats like a horse.
Coffee, coffee you delight me
Roasted beans dark or light
My coffee, oh my coffee.
Please, never leave me.
Susan Ward Trestrail
Ok, now you try. What would you like to honor? What deserves your admiration and honor? Even if it is a little silly, try it. It doesn’t have to be about an urn or salt or even socks.