Monthly Archives: June 2013

For the Eve of Litha, I’ll Share a Magic Poem

Today, Thursday, June 20th, 2013, is the Eve of Litha. Tomorrow is the Summer Solstice (Litha). In my book LANTAMYRA A TAPESTRY OF FANTASY I devote an entire chapter to the Eve of Litha. Here is an excerpt from TownKeeper Marlena Meadows addressing the crowd at the celebration:

“The sun has set, and twilight is upon us. The magic hour begins, and the coming of the fairies is assured. For this night is the Eve of Litha–the magic will unfold!”

Now here is my magic poem for you to enjoy:

“Twilight Magic”

Along a winding shaded path
As twilight deepens into night,
The trees begin their evening song
And from the branches fairies come
to guide me with their glowing light.

Then strolling down this magic path,
Where flowers only bloom at night,
I watch the fairies tender care
Of blossoms in the pale moonlight…
A flicker here…a glimmer there
Of wings a-flutter on the air.

From hollow trunk and mushroom top
The fairy folk observe my walk,
And as I pass beyond the woods
Into a glade I hear
The music of the pipes and flute
Come drifting to my ears.

Susan Waterwyk

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In Poetry, Free Verse Often Needs A Wet Nurse

I am not a big fan of free verse poetry, but don’t get me wrong, there are some great free verse poets. Carl Sandburg is my personal favorite, and I have read and loved many excellent free verse poems by many great poets. However, I believe that poetry should express images, feelings and thoughts eloquently and conventional poetry with structured meter is vastly superior to free verse.

Meter gives poetry rhythm and that is the most powerful magic to put in any poem. In my book, LANTAMYRA A TAPESTRY OF FANTASY, Keeper Jocelyn Rogers proclaims:
“Words are spoken music, poems magic song;
Words that march in rhythm pull the mind along….”

Most modern poets embrace free verse because it’s requires so little effort. They focus on creating image: “Blue birds reflect the azure skies while butterflies melt into shadows.” They focus on creating feeling: “It rips my soul; the agony is mine.” Or, they focus on creating thoughts: “Regardless of the source the truth flows pure.”
The latter quote is one of my own created favorites. The first two examples I created spontaneously to illustrate how easy it is to express in free verse.

Most modern free verse poets admit that composing in conventional rhythm and rhyme is too difficult to do line after line, verse after verse. They stuggle to find the words that rhyme, or they struggle to keep from breaking rhythm. “Challenging is it?” (A quote from Shadozzar, one of my dragons) So most modern poets choose the least challenging form of poetry which I affectionately refer to as “baby poetry.” It’s a good way to begin, but I hope the poets will eventually grow to learn to express their poems with conventional meter. It may be more challenging, but it is also much more powerful and rewarding.

Edgar Allen Poe skillfully mastered all forms of conventional poetry. His poem, “The Raven” begins with the immortal quote: “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary…” So many people can quote that couplet. Why? Because words that march in rhythm pull the mind along. Robert Frost’s beloved “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is (in my opinion) one of the most beautifully crafted conventional poems in the English language. He dared to create a rhyme scheme so unique and extraordinarily challenging that no poet has ever (to my knowledge) dared to compose a poem using the same scheme. That is a strong testament of his skill and why his poem is immortal. How many people can remember the lines at the end?
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep…”

Conventional meter is challenging! It took me many years to grasp it. As I grew older, I dared to take the challenge. Now, I am no longer restricted to the first grade primer of free verse. I don’t need a wet nurse just because the teat is within reach! For better or worse, I try to write my favorite poems in conventional meter. I do not believe I am a great poet. So for all the free verse poets out there that feel like Granny just spanked them and called them babies, here is one of Granny’s poems, for them to criticize. It’s not great, but I gave it a shot. It was conceived on a picnic by a Sierra stream.

“The Brook”

The babbling from a little rill
As it goes tumbling down the hill
Does beckon me to wander there
To hear the tale it has to share.
Entreating me to stay awhile,
It tells of flowing many miles
From high and snowy mountain walls
And down the stately waterfalls.

“A mighty stream was I,” it said.
“And from the icy heights I fled
On through the woods of oak and birch
Where songbirds came to make a perch.
Then ‘round a beaver dam I passed
Into a meadow green with grass
Where blossoms from the verge did burst
And creatures paused to quench their thirst,
Then traveled over rock and sand
To find myself where you now stand.”

As shadows lengthen on the glade
The little brook flows on to bade
A fond farewell to me this day.
Then as I turn and step away
It sings of joy in giving life
To those enduring stress and strife.

Susan Waterwyk

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Can Mathmagic Predict a Volcanic Eruption

For the record, I am predicting that sometime in the near future (before the end of the year 2017) that the volcano Mt. Lassen in northern California will experience a major eruption. How horrific the eruption will be, I do not know. I am not asking anyone to accept my prophecy as a “sure thing,” nor am I suggesting that people evacuate the area around Mt. Lassen.

I do not claim to be a clairvoyant psychic. I based my prediction on a pattern that I observed in certain recent cosmological and geological events. I also state for the record that I would rather be proven a fool and a victim of a cosmic joke for making a prediction that does not come to pass than be correct and have a natural disaster occur.

“We pessimists would rather be wrong—it usually means we survived.” That quotation comes from a Russian character in my novel Lantamyra A Tapestry of Fantasy.

Now before you exclaim, “Aha! This is just a clever plug for a book,” please, hear me out. It does involve my book cover image, but not necessarily the story. It also involves a recent total (annular) solar eclipse, two recent earthquakes and one recent volcanic eruption.

This story begins a year ago in April 2012 (a grand year for doomsday predictions). I was finishing the acrylic painting that I planned to use for my book cover. The fantasy image was a landscape of Lantamyra, and the last items added to the painting were the two moons. I made two paper cut-outs and placed them in different positions on the canvas. Unable to decide, I tossed the cut-outs on the table; the smaller landed on top of the larger and made it appear as if the moons were eclipsing. “Perfect!” I decided to paint an eclipse because one is mentioned in the book. The painting was completed soon after.

A few days later, I received the May/June issue of Via, a travel magazine that had a headline on the cover: “Don’t Miss The Eclipse” I always wanted to experience a total eclipse of the sun. Needless to say, I was excited to discover that this eclipse would occur over California’s Sierra Nevada on May 20, 2012. One of the recommended viewing points was Mt. Lassen State Park because the path of totality would pass directly over Mt. Lassen. I started making plans to be in the area for the event.

At one of the science websites, I found a map of the complete path of the eclipse. It would begin near China and Japan, make a wide arc up the Pacific to the Aleutian Islands then down to southern tip of Oregon and across northern California. I learned that the path of totality would be fifty miles wide and pass right over my Sierra home, so I wouldn’t need to travel.

The eclipse would not be a total blocking of the sun, but instead, it would appear as a “Ring of Fire” with the moon completely in the center of the sun. I was a bit disappointed, but it was better than no eclipse at all.

I told my husband that my “Ring of Fire” eclipse just happened to follow the path of what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. He said that it might be a doomsday omen. I laughed it off and called it just a good photo op. Then I noticed on the California map that it would travel directly over Susanville, Ca.

“Since my name is Susan, I claim all magical rights to this cosmic event.” I said

My husband noticed the eclipse would pass right over the mountain I had used as a model for my painting.

I had used an old vacation photo of the Sierra near Donner Pass. The photo of the mountain was taken from eastbound I-80 near Hwy 20. The town of Susanville would be on the far side of that mountain. In my painting I embellished the details to make my fantasy mountain appear as a Native American woman lying on her side looking to the East

On Sunday, May 20th 2012, my daughters and granddaughters came to visit me. I carried my painting and easel out to the front yard and clicked a number of photos during the time of totality. It got dark enough to cause my driveway lights to turn on, but not the spooky dark that I had hoped would occur. Then my granddaughter noticed something unusual. She was looking through the branches of my oak tree at the eclipse. When it was surrounded by dark leaves (but not blocked by the leaves) you could see the black center (the moon) and the ring of fire at the edge of the sun, and amazingly, the ring was surrounded by purple light!

“Gramma, it’s just like the doorway in your painting!”

Magically true! The interdimensional doorway on my painting had a black center surrounded by a ring of fire surrounded by purple light. It was amazingly similar, but attempts to photograph the phenomenon without a special lens failed.

Okay, so after the eclipse had passed into history, we didn’t think much more about it. We went inside and had burgers and salad.

Fast forward to the night of May 23rd 2013, I was working on the sequel to my book when an earthquake occurred. Not terrible, but strong, in fact, it was the strongest of the five or six quakes we have felt since moving into the Sierras sixteen years ago. We checked the news online; it was a 5.7 near Greenville, CA. I didn’t know where that was located; they didn’t show a map, and I didn’t give it much thought. A 5.7 wasn’t worth the effort to research.

My husband noticed a news story about a big 8.2 earthquake off Russia in the eastern Pacific that had occurred a few hours earlier (note: because the international date line is in the Pacific Ocean, the Russian quake technically occurred on May 24th). Then, he saw another story about an eruption of a volcano in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. He mentioned that all three events took place on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”—almost a year to the day, since the eclipse.

“And that’s almost spooky,” I teased.

“Go ahead and laugh, but there’s more…” He held up the May/June issue of Via which had a picture of a volcano on the cover. The main story was about volcanoes of western America, and one of the five volcanoes featured was Mt. Lassen. And, coincidentally on the left side of my painting, there is a volcano that I named the White Queen.

“You don’t suppose that quake was near Lassen?” he said.

“Let’s check…”

The map showed the 5.7 earthquake had occurred close to Mt. Lassen, on the eastern side. When I considered the symbolic relationship between Mt. Lassen and my White Queen I noticed that the epicenter for the quake would be directly under the eclipse I had painted. And, that was too mathmagically coincidental to be ignored. I am certain the 5.7 quake was inside the path of totality. However, I am not certain if the Russian quake, or the Alaskan volcano, occurred in the narrow path of totality or just along the general path of the eclipse, but I still find it intriguing.

According to Dr. Deepak Chopra: “Coincidences are glimpses into the creative mind of the Universe.”

We found other peculiar circumstantial anomalies that have led me to declare that Mt. Lassen’s eruption will occur before the end of 2017. But I will not go into every trivial detail we uncovered.

Once again, I claim all magical rights to the solar eclipse last year and name it: “Susan’s Eclipse.” Furthermore, I am not afraid, and I’m not making any plans to move out of the Sierra. AND, on December 31st 2017, if the eruption has not taken place, I will celebrate the New Year dressed in the cap and bells of a fool (or jester), and at exactly midnight, I will take a full banana cream pie in the face and post it on YouTube.

Sincerely, Susan…blessings of life.

P.S. On lighter note, my next blog will contain a couple of my Nature poems written about the beautiful Sierra.

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