Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Wednesday Words - Revival

Luci Shaw was the first serious poet I ever connected with. I don't remember where or how, but during my college years I came across a book of her poems, The Secret Trees. I loved it.

As a young singer-songwriter in those days, I had focused most of my literary attention to the lyrics of songs. Luci Shaw was the first poet to make me love poetry--to hear music in the words themselves.

I guess it's not surprising that I would turn some of her poems into lyrics, and so I did. During my graduate school years, as a musical composition student, I used several of her short Christmas poems as the text for choral pieces. And as recently as I few years ago, I put one of her poems about the aurora borealis to music. I hope to record that song sometime soon, provided I'm able to get permission.

Today, some thirty-five years after discovering Luci Shaw's poetry, I notice that the poets I have subsequently come to love usually have something in common with her spirit and style. As I write this post, I realize just how much of a gentle yet important influence she has had on me, and I consider that to be a very good thing. Thank you, Luci.

Here is a perfect Luci Shaw poem for today:

March. I am beginning
to anticipate a thaw. Early mornings
the earth, old unbeliever, is still crusted with frost
where the moles have nosed up their
cold castings, and the ground cover
in shadow under the cedars hasn't softened
for months, fogs layering their slow, complicated ice
around foliage and stem
night by night,

but as the light lengthens, preacher
of good news, evangelizing leaves and branches,
his large gestures beckon green
out of gray. Pinpricks of coral bursting
from the cotoneasters. A single bee
finding the white heather. Eager lemon-yellow
aconites glowing, low to the ground like
little uplifted faces. A crocus shooting up
a purple hand here, there, as I stand
on my doorstep, my own face drinking in heat
and light like a bud welcoming resurrection,
and my hand up, too, ready to sign on
for conversion.

"Revival" by Luci Shaw, from What the Light Was Like.
© Word Farm, 2010.

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