Spring Renewal ~ Wildflowers

Our poetry series is for poets who love trying new techniques. Visit our site on every 5th  (5th, 15th, and 25th) to see which poem has inspired a lesson in thinking and writing.

Wildflowers :: 4 Requirements of Songs

Dolly Parton’s “Wildflowers” is structured around an extended metaphor.  The song itself has a catchy tune, one of the best by Parton. Find the lyrics here. Unfortunately no video exists for this song.

Music with Poetry = Country Music

Country music is the venue of poets who love to play with music, much more so than rock and pop, which may occasionally dip into the tropes.  More than rock, which usually depends on a guitar riff or other elements, country music is known for its strong use of imagery and figurative language. 

Here are four excellent examples of the imagery and figurative language that elevates country music FAR above other genres.

Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”
Kathy Mattea’s “Standing Knee Deep in a River”
Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces”
Garth Brooks’ “The Thunder Rolls”

Dolly Parton is one of the great performing songwriter/poets. 

More than any other communication, poetry should speak clearly and from the heart.  Music-driven poetry should also provide strong lines and powerful imagery.  “Wildflowers” fits these four requirements.

Strong Lines

An extended metaphor keeps everything tied together. 

The persona is a wildflower.  Unlike other flowers, she refuses to wither.  She has a dream she is determined to pursue, so the wild mountain rose uproots herself from safety and security.  As she says in her refrain, “When a flower grows wild, it can always survive. / Wildflowers don’t care where they grow.”

Powerful Imagery

Parton’s imagery strengthens the extended metaphor into a powerful message.

Wildflowers that remain in the safe but crippling home garden die in the sun.  Rather than become strong themselves, which is the nature of the wildflower, the garden flowers allow themselves to be kept weak.  The sun truly will burn up a plant, but I wonder if this is Parton telling women not to be wholly dependent on a man (sun > son).  She is not anti-man; after all, she “hitched a ride with the wind . . . HE was my friend.”

She presents that men who try to stifle women and women who CHOOSE to be stifled are all weak.  As she writes, the weak and stifled lack a strong independent nature:  The flowers that don’t pursue dreams (these garden-rooted weak women) are “content to be lost in the crowd / . . . common and close . . . no room for growth. / [while] I wanted so much to branch out.”

Clear Heart-felt Message

Perhaps her “fast and wild” upbringing caused her to “uproot herself and take to the road”.  Perhaps the isolation she felt in the garden “so different from me” drove her decision.

Whether either or both, she “never belonged, I just longed to be gone / so the garden one day set me free”.

Who has not struggled with rebelling against conformity?

Who has not felt isolated from those around us?

And who of us has dreamed—yet hesitated to pursue the dream?  We hesitate, for it requires abandoning our safety net.

When writers connect to audience, their words often provide an impetus for us.  “Wildflowers” wants us to let go of whatever withers us, release the anonymity of the mass blob of the crowd, and hitch our dream to the wind.  We are promised room for growth.  We are promised us.

After all,

“Success is a journey, not a destination.  The doing is usually more important than the outcome.” ~ Arthur Ashe Jr. (1943-1993)

Barbed Wires from a Master Songwriter

One more post in our poetry series about relationships. This time, we’re looking at the broken relationship in Sting’s “Fortress Around Your Heart”.

Barbed wires and high walls and a dangerous chasm protect a heart wounded so many times before.

You can find the Lyrics here and the video is HERE!

Sting is above other songwriting poets for this singular reason >

He never seeks the mundane metaphor that everyone else is selecting.

Continue reading “Barbed Wires from a Master Songwriter”

Brotherly Love

Writers Ink continues our series of blogs on poetry: sharing & examining, analyzing & interpreting.

Different Types of Love

WE’RE CONTINUING A LOOK AT LOVE, THIS TIME WITH BROTHERLY LOVE.

The Greeks have four different words for love, each representing a different type.

Eros :: the love that includes sexual passion.  This is the love that we usually mean, the miraculous and mysterious love that joins two hearts in a relationship

Storge :: the love between parents and children, familial love.  It has expanded to include the love we feel toward a protective patron (such as patriotic love for our nation) or fan-based love (“That’s my sports team”).

Agape :: the love of God for people and of people for God;  the charity of Corinthians 13.

Philia :: “brotherly love” which is loyalty, comradeship, affectionate friendship;  community compassion.

Philia is our focus on Love in this blog.  Many of us have experienced that desirous connection to family and community that drives us to reach out to those in need.

This brotherly love forms the basis of Rufus Wainwright’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother,” the 1969 hit by the Hollies.

Lyrics here and the video here:

Ideas in the Poem

In our road of life, with its twisting turns and steep hills and declines, we do need the occasional support of others.  If we have the philia — brotherly love — when we see someone troubled, we want to help.  We are all equal, linked together by ties as strong as blood.

And those we help, they do not seek to “encumber” or overly burden us.  They are equally on the road.

Unfortunately, we must admit that some people’s dysfunction means they want to share misery rather than hope and gladness.

Remember, Wainwright, tells us, it’s memento mori, not carpe diem.  We all come to the same dark mysterious end, and when considering that end, we should reach out to others.  Then our own burdens will not “weigh [us] down”.

Structure

Easy metaphors, easy alliteration, easy repetition.  One interesting line is the 2nd about the road that “leads us to who knows where who knows when”.  That oblique line is more clearly expressed in the 1st line of the last stanza :: Death.  That’s depressing.

Which is Wainwright’s point.  With death at the end, life is depressing enough.  Make it brighter by connecting to family and community.

Help others, for we are then helping ourselves.  Love others, for we are then loving ourselves.

Ain’t that the truth?

Coming Up

Broken Hearts on March 15 before we launch into the fertility of March and the rebirth of Spring.

Brand your Books with Classic Tropes

Used in discussing market copy and branding in Discovering Your Author Brand by M.A. Lee

Covers for Tony Hillerman’s first novel featuring Jim Chee and Detective Leaphorn
Cadfael — the first book in the 20-book series, A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters
Amelia Peabody — the first book in the series by Elizabeth Peters
Head-boiled Detective Covers
Action Adventure with Louis L’Amour and Lester Dent
three covers for my favorite writer Mary Stewart ~ these are the covers that sold me.
Classic Mystery Pulp Writers of the 1930s to 1950s
Victoria Holt ~ vintage gothic
More vintage gothic