June 1, 2018

Poetry Friday--Mr. Twain

I started this in response to Michelle Barnes' Today's Little Ditty challenge for May from Julie Fogliano: "stare out the window and write what you see." When I looked out the window over a period of a few days, all I noticed was the variation in the weather. That led me to look for the expression that I always assumed to be about New England weather, "if you don't like the weather, wait a minute." In my research I found a great quote from Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens):
In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of twenty-four hours.

--Mark Twain from "New England Weather," a speech delivered to the New England Society, December 22, 1876
I was going to use it to write a haibun, which is a prose piece that includes haiku. But, it turned into a little rhyming ditty.

The photo I found to illustrate my ditty, has Mark Twain looking out a window in 1903, possibly in New England on a spring day.


© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Text:

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of twenty-four hours
. --Mark Twain from a speech delivered to the New England Society, December 22, 1876

Mr. Twain Exaggerates
...Only Slightly

A wisp of mares' tails.
A bank of solid gray.

A breeze to tickle the hairs on an arm.
A wind to make flagpoles sway.

A mist to burn off in sunlight.
A torrent to wash frogs away.

A drip of sweat, a shiver of cold.
An average New England spring day.

I ended up writing a cherita to post on Michelle's TLD May padlet, because I actually did see something outside my back window (three rabbits). Michelle featured it on Wednesday (thanks, Michelle).

Today's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Buffy's Blog.

23 comments:

  1. Although I grew up in Massachusetts, I thought the "if you don't like the weather, wait a minute" was a Michigander phrase. People here seem to say it every minute! Love all the details in your response to Twain's exaggeration.

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    1. I'm glad to know weather uncertainty is country-wide!

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  2. Ha! The phrase is one that we say here in Colorado, too, Diane. I looked & it seems that other states have the same idea that it orginated there. What you've done, the Twain photo and the poem is so clever. I enjoyed every part!

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  3. We say that about Ohio weather, too!

    LOVE that you found a photo of Mr. Twain looking out his window!!

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    1. There are many photos of Twain available. I own several postcards with his picture on them that I purchased at vintage postcard sales. I think Twain was an early adopter of the cult of self-promotion.

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  4. Love your poem. The imagery is so clear and beautiful. It seems the weather is a theme this week. The crazy humidity inspired my poem.

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    1. Today was the first really humid day we've had. No doubt we'll be having more!

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  5. Love the vivid details in your poem. Great pic of Twain and love his quote! :)

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    1. I'm a big Twain fan! (But not big enough to tackle his three volume autobiography! It's nearly 2,300 pages long!)

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  6. Twain's wisdom about the weather spans all the way to the deep south; although, lately, not much changes. It's just hot.
    I love your little weather lines, especially the ones that throw a breeze to tickle my arm hairs.

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    1. It's too early to be too hot. I'm not sure how southerners survive it.

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  7. Good for you for following Julie's instructions to write down what you see several days in a row! I remember that New England weather well, Diane, especially the arm hair tickling and frog torrent days. I can tell by Twain's expression, he agrees and gives your ditty his stamp of approval. :)

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    1. I'd gladly accept his stamp of approval!

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  8. Love your weather poem, Diane, and your rabbit cherita. Wonderful word choices in each.

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    1. Thanks, Tabatha, I keep working at word choice. The words that aren't cliched, or, seem like I've been trying too hard.

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  9. Delightful, Diane - and glad you listened to what wanted to be written! I guess a New England Spring is a lot like an Old England Spring.... I've only been there once, but it was in April, and we had about 136 kinds of weather....

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    1. In my mind I see England in April like May in New England.

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  10. Apparently, your response to the weather is a universal one--it sounds like Wisconsin, too! I love the contrast within each stanza and the internal rhyme of "mares" and "hairs."

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    1. Ha! I didn't even notice the internal rhyme until you brought it to my attention!

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  11. I love it all--Twain quote, picture and poem--all come together beautifully. And I'm sure that expression about sticking around if you don't like the weather describes the Midwest, too!

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  12. That's a lovely ditty Diane, and it sure takes in wealth of change in the weather. I liked this line of yours, "A torrent to wash frogs away." Our weather here in Chicago can change very abruptly too, thanks!

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  13. What a delightful post and I so enjoyed reading about how your poem evolved. Those unexpected journeys can be so rewarding. Thanks for sharing yours and your ditty as well. Great title!

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