Poetry Friday is hosted by Michelle Barnes @ Today’s Little Ditty
We’re in the midst of historical fiction book clubs in Room 202, with a lot of discussion about historical time frames and how authors craft compelling stories about characters navigating their own personal lives and challenges even as wars and famines rage. One of our book club selections is Kirby Larson’s wonderful Hattie Big Sky, the story of a young homesteader’s westward adventure.
The discussions have ranged over many different topics – how unusual it was to have a young woman set off to homestead on her own (although this did occur), the bravery and fortitude it required to leave the familiar behind forever and turn West in search of a better life, and the difficulties and loneliness the early pioneers must have endured out on the prairies. We spent time looking at photographs and paintings to get a sense of the vastness of the landscape and the challenges of clearing, planting, and coaxing harvests that could sustain families, and provide an existence. My suburban New Jersey kids, used to all the comforts of life, found this very humbling and inspiring. I shared this poem by Willa Cather, which, I think, allows us to envision life on the prairie even more clearly:
Evening and the flat land,
Rich and sombre and always silent;
The miles of fresh-plowed soil,
Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness;
The growing wheat, the growing weeds,
The toiling horses, the tired men;
The long empty roads,
Sullen fires of sunset, fading,
The eternal, unresponsive sky.
Against all this, Youth,
Flaming like the wild roses,
Singing like the larks over the plowed fields,
Flashing like a star out of the twilight;
Youth with its insupportable sweetness,
Its fierce necessity,
Its sharp desire,
Singing and singing,
Out of the lips of silence,
Out of the earthy dusk.