Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Exploring The Land Of Tears

"If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night."

"It is such a secret place, the land of tears."
~Le Petit Prince, 
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Exploring The Land Of Tears

The explorer woke up.
It was a fine morning for exploring, and 
he set out to do so, as that was his job,
his job and his pleasure. 
As always, he looked for baobabs, 
as one must be vigilant, and
for flowers, though really, 
he had too many secrets about flowers--
but he walked for a considerable time
without finding either one, 
or any trees at all, or sheep, or small rodents.
Only the rock, without even a volcano,
and nothing at all

He noticed he was growing cold and thought
'Perhaps I am on a glacier--it's very white here--
or perhaps I am on a moon.
He felt very lucky. 
(He was not an Arctic Explorer, and still less
had he had any adventures among the stars.)
He walked past nightfall, when he began
to feel  a tightness in his chest, as if
a yellow snake might
have given him poison
as if air was receding,   
as if the further he walked,

the further he grew from his search.
He felt clad in white stone
as reflective as the moon (or glacier)
where he ever more slowly walked, till
stopping, he saw just where he was,
knew that down his cheeks ran
the insignia of the close lost
land he feared, a place that had
made his reputation, a place 
he was completely
sick of exploring.

Instead, as he froze to
his tears, he looked at the sky,
at the stars, at the one star
where there was
the one flower
who looked like a common rose
but was not.

~April 2014

posted for     real toads
Word List: Le Petit Prince

For the last day of April (YES!!) grapeling (grapeling)has us writing to a wonderful word list from one of my favorite books, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. I leafed through it just to refresh my memory a bit, and there were more quotes than I could possible include that inspired this poem--thank you so much Michael, as I can conclude the month now with a poem I feel good about.

Images : Rosa 'Pat Austin' copyright joyannjones 2012-2014
Footer: Greenland Ice Sheet, Joshua Brown/ University of Vermont via NPR Online


  1. You certainly should feel good about this one! Lots to think about here.

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  2. Your month of writing has been exceptional, Joy and I consider it my good fortune to have been able to partake of your words each day.

    What strikes me most about this poem, is the completely different voice you have employed. I mean different from the style I most associate with your work. There is a weariness, a cynical undertone, which may say something about coming to the end of a long and arduous journey (like that of NaPoWriMo) and finding oneself lost. I also imagined the little prince, no longer little, divided from his space adventure and back on Earth, grown to a man. Does he remember that fox and that flower, or are they merely a distant dream, fading like childhood with the years?

    PS. When I first saw the photo of that rose, I swear I could smell it! It is a beauty.

    1. Thanks, Kerry. Your support this month has been truly appreciated, and the decision to go with a prompt a day at IGWRT certainly made a huge difference. I'm glad you like the rose pic--its one of my own favorites. She is a glorious creature, very winter-damaged this year, but she will come back.

  3. Oh, what a fabulous tale you wove with this one. The longing, the beauty, the regret, all so beautifully scented.

  4. Joy, what a tale! Magnificent! One feels the cold and the bleakness and the slow loss of hope. I smiled at the bracketed thought - so clever.

  5. The close lost land he feared... I read this as 'the cause he lost and feared'... The whole poem reads like a beautiful story. I love it!

  6. Sorry I had put this comment in the wrong place.
    Beautiful, Joy, that snake at the end always worried me. I love the parallel glacier/moon/body and the insignia of this very fear, his distance from his love. Yes, I feel a bit of Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet here--when your distance is among the stars don't try to take them with you .(paraphrase).

  7. I never ready the little prince but I loved what it inspired. So beautiful Joy.

  8. smiles. its a cool has been forever since i read that book...i need to go back and read it not...the insignia of the close lost on his cheese is a great is very interesting how you inhabited this voice as well joy....

  9. This poem makes me feel good too, Hedge...truly, through and through.

    I love the voice you've used and the repetition and the spare way that this is delivered...very poignant indeed.

    The closing portion really appeals to me and I love how you rose, (gorgeous rose!), makes this cyclical.

    Wonderful work this month, Hedge...congrats!!

  10. Hey Joy--I am too tired to comment. This last two day's poems have been finished very late--I fell into May I fear--but this is lovely, sad--you use a story-teller's voice here but also make it your own--matter-of-fact and not, and that terrible longing and sense of what has been somehow lost so palpable. I've also got a moon reflecting, but am fairly plebian! k.

    1. Thanks, k--a fine comment--and a hard but also fun and productive month, during which your help and support was instrumental to my success(however limited.) Very glad it's over, but wouldn't have missed it, or the joint journey, for anything.

    2. Me too. I am on amtrak train and looking over my own output-- so much needs editing but there are a few there and what more could one ask for? Except the pleasure of doing them. Thanks again. K.

  11. Exploring the land of tears..I think the past several years I have done that too have an amazing gift to let us see and feel your verses

  12. you've percolated some incredible work this month. I am impressed, inspired, and in awe. You did it, yet again. a place/he was completely/ utterly/ sick of exploring. a smashing end to a juicy week.

    1. Thanks, jane--for this and for all your kind words, thoughts, insights and support during a rough slog--it seemed much harder this year than years past, but maybe that's just because my memory is shot. ;_) I truly appreciate the effort you made to read and give your feedback to all these poems--it's a lot of time and energy, and it makes a huge difference to have that kind of support.

  13. That ending. Oh, that ending. What we love is never ordinary.

  14. first, no, last, no - never mind, I'll just pick a number... we have a mutual admiration society - I found your visits both reassuring and inspirational this past month. I'll be taking a bit of a break, myself, though must admit that missing yesterday and today I was mumbling as I drove around, a phrase here, a couplet there. shot of whiskey should help calm that down. anyways, I am really tickled that you found this prompt useful. I had intended to use Rilke then Kerry pointed out the very passage I was considering - but I think this worked out ok :).

    to your pen - the narrator is distinct from the more ethereal voice more often heard in your pens. as Kerry notes, like a grown-up Prince, though I didn't find it cynical or weary, but rather, observant. Oddly, I heard a tatter of Marlow (Heart of Darkness) in the end of the first stanza, but perhaps more of the early stiff-upper-lip version, and certainly not Kurtz. Perhaps that undermines my take that the voice isn't cynical - oh well. :)

    Perhaps it's the second verse that again brings in Conrad. All explorations are fraught with danger, yes? Whether an asp or a Manager or the crumbling realization that the rose we thought is not, at all, what we projected. Anyways, I'm rambling - I just wanted to thank you again for your support and for contributing such a strong piece, at month end no less!, to my little prompt ~ M

    1. Yes, I had a poem come up which I just lost because I wasn't willing to jump up and write it down, and an hour later all I remember is that it had a ton of assonance. ;_) I imagine I'll be back playing soon. I don't think there was any loss by not using Rilke--I was a bit too exhausted at that point to go to those depths anyway--not that the depths in Saint-Exupery are less profound--perhaps even more so, as they are simplified in ways that make them accessible and luminous without great suffering and intellection.
      I like your parallel to Conrad--and indeed, I didn't intend the voice to be cynical at all, simply someone caught in a maze of his own machinations, unable to see the inevitable, yet still able to fully feel all the concurrent emotions and experience them--which of course, cynics don't, as they use the mind to shut down the emotional response to rote indifference. Maybe there is also a bit of a parallel with Marlow in the Prince himself, forced to see and absorb so much darkness, his own hopes forever distanced. He too became sick unto death. But that's another philosophy entirely. ;_)
      Thanks for all your support--just reading your poems made a huge difference, made me feel that there was indeed a purpose and a reward to the slogging through, and thanks especially for this challenge, which was exactly what I needed on April 30th to more... poem. :P

  15. Press this poem in to the leaves of wonderful book of poems called "April in Hedgewitch's Garden" if you will -- I do, at least ... a spring-tide burn and weave and thrust and haul. I'm ashamed I never read "The Little Prince" though the tale of exploration is a dear one in the old bardic sack of winds, the setting out, the discoveries, and then the Ne Plus Ultra where journeying must stop and turn and return, or become that which thought couldn't exceed and so froze into. Our writing ventures thus, as our year, our living, our loving ... a natural arrears which the eternally questing mind can't quite retrofit into something stable and fixed like a poem. And in the end, the quest ends where it might have begun, with one of those blooming roses. So nice. Are ya enjoying days of respite between poems?

    1. This poem is probably fairly meaningless without the backstory of The Little Prince and the references it makes to the concepts in it,though perhaps they are a bit archetypical after all, but I thank you for the kind words. The Little Prince is one of those books that make you believe that despite all evidence to the contrary, there is a vein of good within most humans that is real and persistent--not only goodness, but a radiance of kindness, and that the possibility to see the folly of the world, to find a wisdom in its workings, and to forgive everything, also exists. Thanks for reading, B.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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