One Epic in April

National Poetry Writing Month

Happy NaPoWriMo everyone! It’s been at least 5 years since I’ve participated in NaPoWriMo, so I am due to return to the side of my muse and rekindle the bonds of friendship between us.  She has taken her love to more attentive mortal humans, but I am sure that I will win back her affections as I take time to spend in nature and still my voice and thoughts. I am all ears for listening to her whispers.   I have my notebook ready to write down the inspirations she will bless me with.

 

Yellow notebook
Notebook ready to be filled with poems

 

Calliope

One of my favorite legendary muses is Calliope.  She is the the oldest among sisters and is the mother of Orpheus and Linus. Calliope is the chief among muses.  She played the lyre like her son Orpheus, and enjoyed writing poetry.  She is usually portrayed with a quill and scroll in her hands.

Epic Poetry

Some of my favorite examples of epic poetry are Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Odyssey by Homer, and Beowulf.   I am also intrigued by the Kyrgyz epics around the hero Manas, who unites Kyrgyzstan against their enemies. I must confess that I have not read an epic poem written by a woman, so I will close that gap by April 30th, beginning with Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh.

For many years, one of my dreams has been to write an epic poem.  I have decided to take this month to write one.  On April 30th I will publish a companion post to share with you the results of my efforts. I will write a stanza each day for the next 28 days.  I have written two shorter poems so far, but I am now ready take the plunge into the world of storytelling with a long chain of lyrical verses.

Epic Form

There is a classic structure to writing an epic poem.  Among the elements to include are:

  1. Opens in the midst of dramatic action taking place in the world.
  2.  Setting is vast, including many countries or planets.
  3.  Invokes the aid of a muse, one of the 9 daughters of Zeus.
  4.  States the theme, or cause of the story’s action.
  5.  Uses descriptive epithets for characters, e.g. Alexander the Great, Achilles the Brave, Hercules the Strong, etc.
  6.  Employs long lists of objects, places or people, e.g. the list of demons in Paradise Lost, by John Milton, the genealogy of the featured hero.
  7.  Weaves in long formal speeches.
  8.  Divine intervention in human affairs is prevalent.
  9.  Tragic hero descends into the Underworld, or hell.
  10.  Use of repetition, such as stock phrases, such as “rosy-fingered dawn.”
  11.  Heroes embody the values of the civilization where the epic originated.

The Hero’s Journey

The hero of the story embarks upon a journey or quest in which s/he is besieged by adversaries who want to detain her and cause her to fail in completing her quest.  She returns home transformed when she succeeds.  She exemplifies virtues valued by the people where the story is set and performs mighty deeds.

Invitation

How many of you will try to write an epic poem with me?  Let me know how you fare in your endeavor.

 

 

A Fond Farewell to Autumn Leaves

As Autumn wanes and we await winter’s cold and snow, I bid a fond farewell to the colorful leaves that have graced my days the past couple of months.

September escaped my grasp and I have nearly allowed October to run away from me, too, as I have spent these past couple of months walking wooded paths and enjoying the glory of Autumn in New England.

As September glided into October, my family and I spent a weekend exploring Acadia National Park in Maine, one of the first parks in our national system founded a hundred years ago.  The flora, fauna, and geological diversity at the site captured our interests and imagination.  We were also treated to an early foliage peaking as the state of Maine is very close to Canada, and very close to the top of our continent. Brrr.

During the month of October, we have enjoyed the peak foliage season closer to home.  I have reveled in the glow of warm colors in the leaves as I walked our wooded labyrinth, took an art class around drawing fallen leaves with colored pencils at our local botanical garden, and watched my daughter jump into fluffy, fragrant piles.  Together we love to throw armfuls of leaves into the air and stand in the middle of their showering over our heads.

We have seen more rain fall from the sky this fall than we had all summer. The first frost bit our pole bean bushes and snap pea vines.  I am grateful for the kale that still grows and the butternut squash continuing to ripen in our pantry.  The beets still have some time before they are full grown and are hardier, so I have left them in the bed for now, and planted garlic bulbs for next year’s summer harvest.

As more colorful leaves begin to carpet the grass than flutter from the branches of trees, I extend my best wishes to you for a cozy and productive winter.  The world is ready to rest.  I am ready to spend more time indoors than outdoors.  As Garrison Keillor used to say at the end of his Prairie Home Companion show every week ~ “be well, do good work and keep in touch.”