|Fernando Pessoa (Lisbon poet, 1888-1935)|
— Fernando Pessoa
I live in my wife's hometown of Albacete, a small provincial capital in the region of central Spain known as La Mancha, in the middle of Don Quijote country. The name comes from the Arabic al basit, meaning flatlands. And that about summarizes it: a rather nondescript modern city, with little in the way of the charming old quarters, monuments and buildings associated with most of the country's other historic provincial capitals. No complaints; it is a comfortable easygoing place to raise our daughters, and we have been living quite well here since transplanting ourselves many years ago from Madrid, which is around 150 miles away.
Ah, Madrid, I could go on and on (and probably will). Together with New York, it is the city that best defines me, and generously hosted a long happy stretch of my life. María and I met in Madrid and still spend much time there, prowling museums, parks, plazas and restaurants, always happy to revisit the many years we lived there. But today I wanted to introduce you, briefly, to a village called El Griego, around 35miles south of Albacete. A hamlet, really, with no more than a dozen homes nestled in la sierra, the hills, amongst pine trees, almond and olive groves. We had a house built there ten years ago and it is my preferred spot in the world for long hikes, barbecues, star gazing, mountain biking and luxuriously long lunches and endless wine-doused evening conversations with our good friends there.
|Yours truly, biking in El Griego last winter|
I know the tangy scent of orange peels
released into the cradling mist as bells.
I learn how distant a lover’s echo feels
as I call down the bottomless old well.
A secret roams the ancient olive grove
and whistles absence in the morning wind.
As rainclouds gather strands that songbirds wove,
alone, I sing off-key of love untwined.
No fruit in my song, no water down the well;
only the whispery wings of a turtledove
disturb some leaves and stir the pungent knell
to join the matin carillon above.
No ringing peal to mark my passing times,
today is only tolled by citrus chimes.
© Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow
Brian Miller, Leslie Moon and Peter Marshall have started a new blog called One Stop Poetry. One of their featured activities is One Shot Wednesday, a place where poets can meet and share their poems. Visit them to see other poems linked to the site this week.
The Pessoa quote is from The Book of Disquiet (published by Serpent's Tail, 1991, translated by Margaret Jull Costa)
Gratitude: Thanks to Ruth at synch-ro-ni-zing for your kind help and input on this poem
Bashful disclaimer: There really are turtledoves at our house in the sierra. After all, who but a fevered romantic could put one into a poem like this if there were not?
lorenzo, thank you so much for linking up. it was a pleasant surprise, thought your words were not...we used to have an orange tree in our backyard and would eat them until we were sick, but we would always go back...they were so good...lovely verse, in capturing that moment...good job grabbing that inspiration...ReplyDelete
Hi Lorenzo...you captured it...and high praise for a great opening verseReplyDelete
"I know the tangy scent of orange peels
released into the cradling mist as bells.
I learn how distant a lover’s echo feels
as I call down the bottomless old well."
great to meet you on One shot day and hope you will continue to be around..cheers pete
A lovely poem, Lorenzo, made all the more interesting by the prelude telling us something about your life in Madrid, Albacete, and El Griego.ReplyDelete
You may lower your fever, but your lovely words raise mine. Well done.
Lorenzo, I always come away from your blog wondering what it is you do--you SHOULD be a writer and a poet, so if that's not your vocation, well... you need to quit whatever the heck that is!ReplyDelete
This is just beautiful.
Beautiful description and the last two lines....well bravo I love them....love how you describe yourself living in this wonderful area of the world and how it defines who you are....bkmReplyDelete
The scents of pines, almonds, oranges and olives can't be separated from the meaning and impact of the words themselves. I leave your post and poem feeling I have had aroma therapy. It's nice to get more of a sense of place where you live and get away, and of your beloved Madrid. I look forward to more of those scented words in future poems.ReplyDelete
I'm never disappointed when I read something you've written & this citrusy delight is no exception!ReplyDelete
Love the way you prepared us for your poem, and I love the poem. The scent of citrus, the sound of bells, the willingness to admit to singing "off-key." But there are no false notes here. Thank you.ReplyDelete
a lush post.ReplyDelete
the quote, the photo, the peek into your life,
the exquisite poem.
I already imagine myself carrying these images around all day... perfect.
..I'll check out the poem gathering,
and thank you so so much for your comment. It truly meant a lot coming from you. I wanted to add a little bit on the bottom stating the irony of rushing even these words, hitting publish on something I'd gone back and forth to during the daily grind and it was either delete and move on or publish with sheepish trust knowing it could all of course benefit from editing and refining .... but that really was part of the whole point. again, much appreciation.
Lorenzo, I wish you could hear me clapping. Your poem is awesome. Now, this is poem is true living--an opening of the soul, an inhalation of life. What beautiful words. Each line is a gem. But these keep leaping out at me:ReplyDelete
"No fruit in my song, no water down the well;
only the whispery wings of a turtledove".
I also love "whistles absence in the morning wind." And, of course, the first two lines are fantastic and instantly pull me into the scene in a wonderful and peaceful way. The chimes of the scent of orange peels is excellent. I also love that you use the specific image of the orange peels and not just "an orange."
There are so many things I love about this poem, and like the last poem of yours I read, I appreciate the details and technique. The flow is beautiful. And I love that you begin the poem with "I know." That says so much! The narrator doesn't just smell the scent. He knows it. Excellent word choice.
The sense of smell is one of my strongest senses for some reason. Maybe it's because I grew up in the woods. Each different animal has a distinct scent, and I can smell it coming even before I hear it. Trees and different types of moss smell differently. Etc. So I really appreciate a good poem that uses the sense of smell in such a beautiful way.
Thank you for the links and for introducing us to El Griego. It sounds like a place I would love.
I can't believe I forgot to say something above...haha!ReplyDelete
I love the Fernando Pessoa quote. "I write down what I feel in order to lower the fever of feeling." Yes, yes, yes!
I absolutely love the rhyming couplet at the end! So beautiful. Your poetry is so evocative. And thank you for introducing us to El Griego (I actually took a stroll on the Carretera de Bogarra near El Griego using Google Earth - isn't it amazing to be able to walk through places on the other side of the planet on your computer?). Anyway, the countryside looks lovely!ReplyDelete
Lorenzo, I came back to read again, and to tell you you should publish your beautiful poems. Even if you published through LULU or BLURB books--I'd purchase one in a heartbeat...ReplyDelete
This is aroma therapy at its best, Lorenzo. Excellent.ReplyDelete
Your poetry is in one simple word "resplendent "
....and love the quote and short from Fernando Pessoa, he captured my feelings in one perfect sentence.
Lorenzo, so alive, vivid, and wonderful.ReplyDelete
I have to say I thought I was reading an unfamiliar classic by a great poet. The imagery is pungent and really connects. I guess I'll visit the new poetry blog as I love Brian's poetry.ReplyDelete
Thanks Brian and Pete for your pleasant comments and good luck with One Shot Poetry. I am horribly undisciplined about meeting deadlines and prompts, but will try to participate again. Always nice to meet other blogger-writers.ReplyDelete
Hi George and glad you liked the poem. I am enjoying your photo journal account of the C2C trek and recommend a visit to your blog to everyone.ReplyDelete
Bonnie: well that’s the kind of fever contagion that I like. I am sure you will succeed in bringing down your fever with further musings on your always rewarding blog.ReplyDelete
July 7, 2010 11:14 PM
A Brush with Color: Sue, you are always so lavish with your kind praise. I really appreciate it and your encouragement to publish, but the truth is that I think the blogging world is changing what we mean by publishing. I am perfectly content to continue sharing my musings and venting my fever here, in large part, of course, because it is a channel for self-expression, but also and just as importantly, because of the wonderful sense of being connected that I have with other bloggers like yourself. I truly do not feel a need for anything different in terms of publishing, just more of the same. Also, I only began doing this six months ago and I feel I have a lot to learn and room to grow. There is an expression in Spanish that I love, dar tiempo al tiempo, “give time some time”.ReplyDelete
As for my vocation, or job anyway, I am a translator of legal and financial documents from Spanish to English. A bit of a drudge, but at least I work at home and with words. Once again, thanks so much for all your encouragement.
Hi bkm and welcome to the blog. Thanks for the bravo, I’ll be stopping over at yours soon.ReplyDelete
Dearest Ruth, I like the idea of ‘aroma therapy’. Scent is such an important, suggestive and fecund sense… if a poem of mine can evoke aromas and the emotions they bring with them, I feel very gratified.ReplyDelete
Well, no stroll in the country would be complete without a visit from our most unpesky The Bug. Glad you liked the citrusy delight.ReplyDelete
Hi DS . Singing off-key is my specialty, thanks for not cringing!ReplyDelete
Hello Deb. Nice to see you here as always. My comments on your post were heartfelt and I really like your reflections on the irony of the difficult search for time and an unharried moment to post it. Yes, it does go so well with the spirit of your poem. The idea that you will carry around something from by blog all day is the best reward I could expect from blogging. When, I hear a sensitive and beautiful person and writer like you say that, I feel that any notion that I have to get published or whatever really is superfluous. Thanks so much.ReplyDelete
Julie, as always your feedback means so much to me. I really appreciate your taking the time to discuss what works for you in the poem. And feel free to let me know what doesn’t. I absolutely love the image of you in the woods recognizing the approach of different animals by their specific scents, even before you hear them. That sounds so animalistic, so atavistic! What a wonderful gift in your poet’s toolbox.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Margaret. I am really tickled that you looked up El Griego and found it on the Carretera de Bogarra on Google Earth. These things will never cease to amaze me either. And yes, the countryside is lovely. I really enjoy my walks and bike rides there. It is a bit dry and I wish there were more water. A river or lake would be wonderful, but that is very rare in this part of Spain.ReplyDelete
Hi Pattiken. Thanks and I am glad you got a good whiff of aroma therapy.ReplyDelete
Thanks Joanny. Your always so kind. I came across that Pessoa quote just a couple of days ago and I couldn’t wait to post it. It does capture so much of why many of us write. This relates somewhat to the earlier discussion of the felt ‘need’ to publish our writings. In my case, the need is to write and to have caring, thoughtful and attentive readers like yourself. That is more than enough for me … )for now)ReplyDelete
Hi, Jessie, ‘alive and vivid’ is high praise in my scheme of things. Thanks so much.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much California Girl. Yes, go check out the new poetry blog. Like you, I really like Brian’s blog.ReplyDelete
Interesting, Lorenzo! Well, keep it up--your writing is really beautiful. I like your Spanish expression: I'm going to write that down and remember that.ReplyDelete
I had to visit you after reading your perfect comment on Linda's blog, the poignancy of those raspberries. You have a lyrical, other-worldly quality to your writing that is really wonderful. Sharing personal work like this makes one vulnerable; you have to be brave to do it.ReplyDelete
I will be back to read when I have time to actually READ :).ReplyDelete
Thank you. And the Pessoa quote is perfect for a friend right now who's struggling and feels the need to write it down.ReplyDelete
Lorenzo - I've only just read this post. I enjoyed it. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Regarding Pessoa, I only got to know this poet a few years ago, which is surprising since he's considered Portugal's leading poet. (I've mentioned him a couple of times on my blog.) It's interesting what he says about confessional writing and art as therapy. He's realistic, and provocative, about (as he sees it)the potentially limited role of writing as comunication.
But I think his most interesting comment is about how he writes down what he feels 'in order to lower the fever of feeling'. I understand this very well - how writing, or any creative activity, can create some order out of madness, some insight into chaos, some alleviation from the stress caused by the rampantly emotional states with which we are humanly blessed.
Ruth is right, aromatherapy tucked into your poem, for sure.ReplyDelete
I am late to reading many blog posts these days, including this lovely poem. We've had a family wedding out of town and newly returned. I was glad to see this waiting for me. A treasure, a treat!
PS: I completely agree with Pessoa on all counts. I leave the crochet to my mom, unless you count crocheting with words...
PPS: Still have never visited Spain although it's at the top of my "to visit" spots. Barcelona, Madrid...
love your blog posts!!ReplyDelete