Shifting Focus

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I purchased “Lost Words” by Robert G. Macfarlane quite some time ago after someone shared it here at PF. (Sorry! I can’t remember who. Update: It was Christie Wyman with this post.)  Wow! What a gorgeous book–both the poems and the illustrations.

Then, in June, Mary Lee Hahn tweeted that there are songs to go along with the poems. What!? I fell in love with this one and listened to it over and over and over again. It’s hauntingly beautiful.

“Enter the wild with care, my love, and speak the things you see.  Let new names take and root and thrive and grow.” Sigh…..beautiful….

I started following Macfarlane on twitter. Browsing through recent tweets, I found one in which he shared the term “plant blindness”.

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What a fascinating idea! In the thread of comments, someone shared a link to the original article (here) and a man named James Lomax also responded. He said he’d once walked with a wildflower expert who’d said, “The world comes into focus when you can identify the flowers.” I loved that idea. It helped me to put words to the deep pleasure I get from naming the plants and flowers that surround me when I’m out and about. Having read Tricia Stohr-Hunt’s PF clever triolet earlier this month, I was inspired to revisit that form with this idea in mind. Of course, she made it look so easy! ha! I’d forgotten how tricky these are. This one’s been more than a bit squirmy and hasn’t fully settled down yet. Perhaps it’s just a bit out of focus…

Shifting Focus

Naming plants and flowers
shifts the world into focus
In gilded fields or dappled bowers
naming plants and flowers
uplifts and empowers
Trillium, wintergreen, wild crocus
Naming plants and flowers
shifts the world into focus

Molly Hogan ©2019 (draft)

Check out this week’s bouquet of poetry (and a really cute puppy!) at the Poetry Friday Roundup at Carol’s Corner.

25 thoughts on “Shifting Focus

  1. Tabatha says:

    Plant blindness! So sad. I’m glad there’s a term for it so we can try to shift away from it. Your triolet is uplifting!
    I feel like I always get distracted by plants, dogs, and babies. Can’t pass any of them by!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lindabaie says:

    How interesting about the “plant blindness’, reminds me of Louv’s Last Child in The Woods & what children are missing by not being “outside”. I have The Lost Words, too, but didn’t know about the songs, either. I think I missed that post when on vacation. I smiled with your sentence, “Perhaps it’s just a bit out of focus…” but disagree, love your triolet, Molly, just enough names to make me begin a list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I’m going to try to learn a new plant name regularly. My first challenge is to learn the different types of ferns, as apparently, there are about a dozen kinds of ferns that grow in Maine–who knew!? I learned cinnamon fern yesterday! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. katswhiskers says:

    I follow Robert on Twitter. (He tweets the most fascinating stuff!) I’d never made the connection with the book, though. I wonder if naming birds is next to naming flowers? Or birdcalls? I feel it might be. Your triolet rhymes are so well matched and on-topic. Clever you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I think naming birds is a similar idea, though I may be biased because I have become an avid birdwatcher/namer! By chance, I’ve actually also been working on a triolet about birds. We’ll see if that ever comes together!

      Like

  4. Linda Mitchell says:

    The backstory to your poem is brilliant…your love of learning took you on a journey to understanding. This makes my heart sing. And, the repeated line in your poem is just the cure for plant blindness. This is a wonderful poem. I hope you share it with a wider audience. I haven’t tackled the triolet form yet. It’s tougher than it looks at first. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      Thanks, Linda! I’d forgotten how tricky triolets can be. I think I wrote my first one for the poetry swap last year. I’m playing around with the form a fair bit right now–inspired by those amazing Poetry Sisters!

      Like

  5. margaretsmn says:

    I’m loving how you made this triolet with brave words to rhyme like focus and flowers. I love following your inspiration, too, from book to tweets to poem. I’ve seen a few triolets this PF. Is it a trend?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kay Mcgriff says:

    I am not very good at naming the flowers, but I love noticing them. Slowly I am learning more and more names. I do like your triolet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I find it so rewarding to know the names of flowers, birds, plants, etc., and I learn more all the time! I’m much better at perennial garden flowers than other plants, but I’m determined to learn more.

      Like

  7. Thanks for sharing the music that goes along with “The Lost Words” book it’s lovely. Your poem seems to pick up where the music leaves off and the triolet fits so well for what you are saying. I loved this line in your poem, “In gilded fields or dappled bowers” such a lyrical setting you’ve created, thanks Molly!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So excited that this book is waiting for me at the library! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful song and your own thoughtful poetic response, Molly. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who suffer from plant blindness… and probably a few other blindnesses besides. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  9. cweichel says:

    Molly I got completely lost in that song – so beautiful. Then I came back to the rest of your post. I grew up in a semidesert. Many people see it as a barren landscape, but when you know what to look for, as your poem shows, it’s a rich and vibrant world. It is indeed all about seeing and naming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the song as much as I do. Isn’t it interesting how where we grow up influences our ability to see and name? I would be at a total loss in a semidesert.

      Like

  10. Thank you for this lovely, inspiring post, Molly. The Lost Words is a stunning book! I devoured it when I first got my copy (maybe Christie Wyman first mentioned it?), but your words have encouraged me to go back to savor every poem. I love your triolet. These lines are my favorite: “naming plants and flowers
    uplifts and empowers”
    — us and the plants!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. cvarsalona says:

    Molly, small world. I have been following Robert Macfarlane on Twitter. He has such gorgeous photos and is letting me showcase two of his nature photos for my #SpringSplendorGallery collection. Thanks for the song and the wonderful poem. The lines that resonant with me are: naming plants and flowers
    uplifts and empowers

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      How wonderful that you’re showcasing some of Robert Macfarlane’s photos in your gallery! I am waiting for some of his books to come in to the library. Once I’ve taken a peek, I plan on ordering my favorite. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be annotating like crazy!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Susan Bruck says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post! A friend of mine recently told me about “The Lost Words” because she fell in love with it. It’s on my wish list! The song is beautiful!!!
    And I love your poem about naming–I love learning the names of the plants around me. It helps me feel more connected to the world close by. The idea of plant blindness is amazing.

    Like

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