How often I’ve made haste across that lawn—
Or sat upon it, working in the sun—
Or loitered with such friends in conversation
There that I could while all day away,
So pleasant, joyful was their company.
But I have never danced upon that lawn;
In all the gladsome hours that I have passed
Upon that verdant, gently rising hill,
Not one was spent, under the pleasant sky,
With happy music and the steps of old.

I wrote this poem this week, beginning when I was outside working on our lawn. I was thinking of the Commons Lawn at my alma mater (which also partly inspired my Untitled Metaphor #6), and also of the “Dancing Lawn” in Prince Caspian, which prompted the poem—though none of that is essential to its meaning.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with yesterday’s archive installment, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know which poems you think are my best.

This poem is also archived on my wiki. If you like it, you are encouraged to share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.


7 thoughts on ““Lawn”

  1. Jonathan, my feeling is that this poem will mature and you will return to it and bring to it something that is just a little lacking. I couldn’t dare say. The poem could reach a higher level of inisight, nostalgia, enchantment…


    • Mmm … Yes, I see what you mean. (I think.) In the past, I’ve had commenters say that “hot-off-the-press” pieces I felt were unpolished were (I paraphrase, not remembering exact words) most lovely; this is a reminder that I should at least listen to my self-critical instincts before putting so new a piece up here.


    • The reaction (which I might have exaggerated slightly) was to specific pieces (not only very-recent ones, but those are the ones that leap to mind at the moment), which I had posted despite my misgiving feelings that they needed more revision befor being presentable (and in whose editorial comments I had given that disclaimer, which doubtless prompted the comments).

      When I said “at least listen,” I was deliberately leaving the door open to a reasoned rejection; as I’ve said before in two posts about feedback more-or-less in general, one back in 2009 and the other only two months ago, “I am my own worst critic,” as I generally find myself unable to get the necessary emotional distance from my work to tell what needs work, or even whether it’s any good. (My favorites of my own poems are nearly all the ones where the emotional charge that initially sparked them still resonates most.) I’ve learned to doubt my approbation of recent creations, and my disapproval of much older work; what I need to learn, other than how to create or destroy “critical distance” at need, is to listen to my doubts about recent works—to say, “Okay, this might be presentable, but let’s let it cool off for a month to be sure,” or, “Let’s see if an ending to this turns up in the next couple of weeks,” instead of just posting a piece I’ve just written even if I don’t have any older poem I feel is polished.


  2. Sometimes, you could post poems this way:
    “Refining, editing…” (or something like this for a title), then give earlier and edited versions. This would be interesting to me as a reader, and I feel others would be interested too. You may have done this – am I right?


    • No, I haven’t done that, though that’s a good idea. What I have done is in some cases mentioned how previous revisions ran. Or you may be thinking of the “Poetry Archive” posts. But, as you suggest, if at some time I don’t have a “new” (not previously posted) piece, but I have a substantially revised version of a previously-posted poem, I’ll certainly consider posting the “update.”


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