The draw of the west is a tangible thing / That rolls in my blood and keeps my eye turned / T’ward those royal sunsets of purple and gold / And clear mountain air for which I still yearn
My feet long to walk in those green and brown woods / To happ’ly traverse soft needle and earth / The sway of the pines, the expanse of the sky / These my heart loves in that place of my birth
Now my bed lies a long way from there, from the / Mountains and valleys and all that I know / But now I have seen that this draw of the west / Is stamped upon me, and never will go.
I wrote a rough draft of this the other night before bed, and today in the prayer room I finished it up. It was fun to not only try and capture that great thing about the west (which, when you think about it, needs to be more specific. America’s west is entirely different than Europe’s west. It’s something specific to the American psyche and our history, and something that makes this poem not universal. Perhaps not an important distinction, but a distinction nonetheless), but also to work on the rhythm of the stanzas.
I counted out the syllables for each line and made sure that they were consistent throughout the poem. The beat count goes 11, 10, 11, 10. Some lines were too long, so I had to figure out how to shorten them; others were too short, so I had to find the right words to get the right number of syllables. An example of this is in the first line of the third stanza: it’s why the line ends with “from the”, because that line had 9 beats while the second line had 12. By moving “from the” up to the first line, I preserve my beat scheme. That rhythm is the cool thing about poetry, I think, that prose somewhat lacks (prose can still have a rhythm to it, most certainly). It was fun to work with the language to stay in sync with that beat.
It’s also fun that this was the first poem I wrote in 2010. Fitting, I think : )