Poetry Friday – Earth’s Crammed with Heaven

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware.

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Aurora Lee, seventh book

Earth is crammed with summer heaven in Maine, as Molly so beautifully shows us in her Poetry Friday post today. Be sure to read her “Summer, Ten Times.”

I’ve been reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning this week. The quote above is taken from the seventh of nine books in her epic poem Aurora Lee. I love that passage so much, and I’ve been inspired by it for years. However, before this week, I never remember learning about Aurora Lee (1856), one of the first ever English novels in verse. I wasn’t sure I would be able to get into it, but after reading the first few lines, I was mesmerized:

Of writing many books there is no end;
And I who have written much in prose and verse
For others’ uses, will write now for mine,—

Will write my story for my better self,

As when you paint your portrait for a friend,

Who keeps it in a drawer and looks at it

Long after he has ceased to love you, just

To hold together what he was and is.
I, writing thus, am still what men call young;
I have not so far left the coasts of life

To travel inland, that I cannot hear

That murmur of the outer Infinite

Which unweaned babies smile at in their sleep

When wondered at for smiling; not so far…

Continued here

You can read or download the whole epic poem as a Kindle or EPUB or other format free at Project Gutenburg.

A Golden Shovelful of Heaven

the mystery of sweet earth’s

bliss and beauty is still crammed

full of crude confusion, with

scandalous prayers to heaven

Tomorrow the monthly Ethical ELA Open Write begins. Have you considered joining in, checking out the five prompts for poetry writing each month? On this site, you can listen to an encouraging and welcoming video from teacher-poet Stacey Joy. The prompts will be posted here starting at 7:00 a.m. Central time on Saturday, 17 July and proceeding through Wednesday. See poster below.

Did you remember we’ve been invited to join the dichotomy villanelle challenge with #PoetryPals. It happens in two weeks. Read about it here on Tanita’s blog. I also wanted to share this useful tool again that helps you keep track of all those lines: Villanelle Village – I find it helpful!

Thank you, Molly Hogan, for hosting us today on Poetry Friday. She blogs over at Nix the Comfort Zone.

18 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – Earth’s Crammed with Heaven

  1. What a gorgeous Browning quote that I’m sure is a classic but new to me. I’ve squirreled that one away in my journal already. Thank you! And, such a wow of a golden shovel. There’s a bit of “bite” to it as my mother would say…but good in it’s getting the reader’s attention. Can’t wait for writing early tomorrow morning! See you there.

  2. As one who’s recently plucked berries (red and black raspberries, but still), I can say that even when receiving these gifts into your basket for later baking or savoring fresh with ice cream, one is fully aware of the heaven and the God right there in the row with you. And the toddler in the next row over with her face and hands completely daubed and smeared with berry juice…pure joy. It doesn’t have to be an either/or. (I’m arguing with EBB, not with you!)

  3. Oh I do love a golden shovel poem. This is wonderful – I love the clever title and the contrast between “bliss and beauty” and “crude confusion.” Thanks for sharing this!

  4. This one goes with the Emily Dickinson “Service” poem at Tabatha’s blog. Your shovelful IS golden!

  5. Thank you for this browning gem. And your Golden Shovel. I have bookmarked the villanelle site. Thanks.

  6. Thank you for post Denise, It is heavily laden with gems. Enjoyed the Elizabeth Barrett Browning quote and the fact that she wrote one of the very first verse novels. As a verse novel fan, this factoid is most informative. I also enjoyed your Golden Shovel poem after Browning.

  7. How creative to turn that phrase into a Golden Shovel poem! Summer in Maine is indeed bliss; I’m hoping to get up there & see some puffins.

  8. I confess I’ve read little EBB and so enjoyed what you shared today. I really liked these lines: “As when you paint your portrait for a friend,
    Who keeps it in a drawer and looks at it
    Long after he has ceased to love you, just
    To hold together what he was and is.” I also appreciated all the resources/reminders you included. Thanks!

  9. So many wonderful opportunities to write. Thank you for sharing them, Denise! Well done on your golden shovel. My Teach Write poetry students this week (all teachers of writers) are working on text-inspired poetry — golden shovel, lifted line, found, blackout, and cento. If I may, I’d love to share your gs with them. Cheers!

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