Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Susan Says: Stretching Comparisons

As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground,
 but the live timber burgeons with leaves
again in the season of spring returning.
So one generation of men will grow while another dies.
~Homer’s Iliad 6.146-49


Hello Toads,

Today’s challenge is to write an extended simile or metaphor.  The bleak quote above contains one example and Momaday’s poem “A SIMILE” provides another:  

A Simile

What did we say to each other
that now we are as the deer
who walk in single file
with heads high
with ears forward
with eyes watchful
with hooves always placed on firm ground
in whose limbs there is latent flight 
By Navarre Scott Momaday
(Posted from Poem Hunter)


Like Homer’s first line, Momaday’s first two lines set up a comparison that would be obscure if not for his continuation of that comparison in the following 6 lines.  Note that once the deer are mentioned in the comparison, everything that follows describes the deer.  “We” are “as the deer” in all of these ways:  walking singly and carefully, positioning our heads and ears, watching and having the potential to bolt away at any second.  In a poem of only 8 lines, Momaday makes us see a relationship as a couple or a group of deer moving cautiously.

White-tailed deer “About to Take Flight” by Emery Way

The poem delights me because the comparison is so unexpected and and because, through the deer, Momaday both reveals a relationship in crisis and provides a tone of regret with hope that something of former times can be salvaged.


The Challenge:  Write a brand new poem using an extended simile or metaphor.
—If you have an idea already, go for it!

—If not, consider building on Momaday’s model to describe a relationship.  Using his first two lines, change the comparison from deer to something else that will clarify the relationship you are describing.   Here are a few possibilities:

What did we say to each other
that now we are as a shiny new Ferrari . . .

or

What did we say to each other
that now we are as two cats playing . . .

or

What did we do to each other
that now we are like cheerios in milk . . .

or

I love you as much as the moon loves the sun . . . .

Here is an example of doing this “Wrong” by describing the relationship instead of what you are comparing it to:

We are behaving like a two-headed calf
We each want to be the boss
We take off without consulting with each other … etc.

Possible Corrections:


We are behaving like a two-headed calf
            who can’t have one head lead without the other butting
who stands still out of total bewilderment … etc.

or

What did we say to each other that
now we are as a two-headed calf
who cannot get away from itself
no matter how hard it tries and
who must bend when its other wishes  … etc.

~

I am looking forward to reading 
your creatively  s t r e t c h e d comparisons.
~

Please link your new poem back to Mr. Linky, leave a comment for us on this site, and then be sure to read the other poems here in the Imaginary Garden.  Enjoy!
~

23 comments:

aprille said...

Susan, tell me [when you get up] if this is anywhere near what you expect. If it is, I will write a more appropriate one.
Thanks for helping us stretch our minds.

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is a wonderful challenge, Susan. I love all the examples you have used here - the Homer is especially beautiful - and your explanation is so brilliant, I want to use this as a lesson for one of my poetry classes!

Ella said...

Wonderful Susan! I will be back have to run errands~ I love the examples you shared :D

Margaret said...

I took this photo the other day and just NEW there was a poem in it somewhere! Ha. I'll be back later... sick children today... again.

Susan said...

Good Morning Toads! I did not wake until 9:30 my time which is a remedy for two sleepless nights and a sore throat. YAY! As I dragged myself out of bed I said to myself "There will be three." But April is hands down winner.

April, you aced it. AND as for appropriate, WHAT? Your poem is publishable and wonderful.

Kerry, of course, you may use it. The Momaday example is from my 11th grade English classes. It really works.

Ella, I can hardly wait. Seriously.

Susan said...

Whose clock is wrong, mine (10:09) or the Gardens (9:09)? Maybe it's just a time zone thing?

Susan said...

Welcome, Margaret! Your poem is the cat's pajamas. I don't see it in Mr. Linky, though.

Kerry O'Connor said...

The Garden's time is set to CST, Susan. I'm not sure what your time zone is. I would love to give this as an exercise for my Grade II class. Thanks for sharing.

Susan said...

Thank you, Kerry! I am EST, so that explains it. I am now writing my poem as if Eurydice with Orpheus.

Kim Nelson said...

I am excited to have both time and opportunity to participate this week, Susan; because this is a fabulous challenge!

Kay L. Davies said...

An excellent challenge, Susan, and very well explained. I am feeling sniffle-headed today, but still want to participate. I make it a habit not to read others' work until I have completed and posted mine, so I won't be commenting on any until I've given it my best shot.
Time zones can be confusing, can't they? I try to think of Kerry's, for instance, and my mind boggles.
K

Kim Nelson said...

Susan~
This process brought me great joy and reward. Thank you for offering it up.

Susan said...

Kim, your poem brings ME great joy, too. And Kay, such fun!!

Peggy said...

This really looks fun! I am going out tonight to see a bunch of extreme sports films (an event that supports the college library) and I am going to keep this challenge in mind as I watch! I hope tomorrow will not be too late to post. Oh well I will post it then anyway!

Marian said...

very nice challenge, Susan! love it.

i'm feeling a bit yucky and am to lie down, but will be back around to visit everyone. more anon, xo.

Rita Odeh said...

I like the prompt and your examples, Susan. Metaphors and similes are not allowed in haiku. So, I will try to write tanka.

Susan said...

And now, after 11 pm here, I am heading off to bed. I'll be back for breakfast, lunch, and dinner tomorrow for some more lusciousness. It is not too late, Toads! I think I'll read a few poems from Kelli, Joy, and Shay's book before retiring. What's your bedtime reading?

Ella said...

I will try tomorrow Susan :D
I love this challenge~ I wasn't around much today!

manicddaily said...

a lot of fun. Falling asleep now though. k.

Sini Rachel said...

Thank you Susan for this beautiful learning experience. I so look forward to each new prompt at the toads now.

Sabio Lantz said...

Thanks Susan -- I was in a playful mood this morning.

Ella said...

Susan, I loved your challenge, but found it difficult~ Thank you for inspiring me though, I enjoyed what I planted ;D

Grace said...

I turn to my pictures from Sunday's foray into Toronto streets for inspiration ~ Thanks for the lovely challenge, Susan ~