Friday, February 24, 2012

For Real Toads: a poet's first two lines

Over at the writers' group, Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, Mary (In the Corner of My Eye) has offered us a way to get a poem going. Choose, she suggests, the first two lines of a poem by someone whose work we admire, and use those lines to jump-start a poem of our own.
Your timing is perfect, Mary, because my brain is not in gear atallatall and my head is still stuffed up with a cold. 
I decided to try one of the old-faithfuls from my youth, one of the balladeers for whom I've always had a soft spot. Their rhythms have almost always been able to get my rhythms going.
I chose the Scottish-Canadian, Robert W. Service, in part because his early works were first printed in a British Columbia newspaper, and I spent most of my life working for British Columbia newspapers.
The first two lines are Service's, the rest are mine.

Thy life is thine to make or mar, 
To flicker feebly, or to soar, a star; 
To live with honor or to die in shame,
The choice is yours, my darling, all the same.
Soaring means to thyself be true,
To be a star means nothing there to rue;
Living in honor means not choosing shame,
The choice is yours, my dear one, all the same.
You’ve been given a gift to use,
To use your talent well, and not abuse
The poetry that’s printed with your name;
The choice is yours, my daughter, all the same.
(This is written to an imaginary daughter, a poet-daughter I think I might have had.)


Daydreamertoo said...

It seems your muse came out to play, today.
You were inspired.

kaykuala said...

A beautiful advice to the young lass, a lasting impression! Not just that! I like the prompt so much and had chosen it for myself. Apologies for taking it without your prior approval. And thanks!


Fireblossom said...

I always wanted a daughter. Too late now. *sigh*

Mary said...

I do like Robert Service very much, and (in fact) have a book of his poetry. And I am VERY fond of B.C. I do think that you might consider that this poem was written about you by a mother. Take the words to heart. I think they are for YOU. I appreciate your poem greatly for many reasons.

KaHolly said...

Excellent job! Very sage advice to a youong daughter.

Mama Zen said...

This is seamless! Marvelous write.

Teresa said...

This is very touching.

Kay said...

Wow, Kay! I really love this! You are such a talented poet. I hope you're feeling well today. Have a lovely Saturday! Give Dick a hug for us. Oh... and Lindy too!

Kerry O'Connor said...

You have picked up on Service's style quite seamlessly and produced a classic of your own.

Mary Mansfield said...

Wow! This poem is the perfect bit of advice to a daughter with a literary bent...I'll be showing this to my own daughter later. Thanks so much for sharing it!

Herotomost said...

The advice and message is stellar and the intention fills my heart up. This was a really creative take on the challenge and it introduces me to a new poet I will have to check him out. Great writing as always...I love visiting your place.

Mary Ann Potter said...

Ah, yes, and very "Service-able" with your touch! Lovely work, great advice!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Very beautiful, Kay. Loved it.

Kateri said...

I don't have a daughter, but your poem made me ponder what I might write to her, if I did...actually your advice would be fitting in many other areas of life, not just in poetry.

Heaven said...

I love it. Poems about choices always touch and speak to me. Yes, I chose to be pregnant after many years and with God's blessings, a healthy daughter.

Beautiful ~

Susie Clevenger said...

Wow...what beauty you have created..and one on choices. We make them and must live with the good or bad..nice work!

Ella said...

Your words danced, I loved the flow, how beautiful and sincere it was~