Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, & Mr. Malcolm Sedam's creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my interest.
Introduction and Text of "Ron's Chariots of the Blood"
My husband, Ron, who is an amazing landscape artist, sent me an email message featuring his dream journal entry, describing a dream that he had experienced about a poem. He religiously keeps a dream journal, a great idea, something I likely should have done, but which my aversion to dreams has thus far precluded.
The following is the dream entry that Ron sent me:
My 29 December 2019 dream:
Linda bought a poetry book and was looking through it. I saw a poem called "Chariots of the Blood." The poem just had a few lines, yet it was strung out over several pages. One page had just one word, and another page a couple of more words. I was criticizing that and saying it was stupid to waste pages like that. Linda was justifying the style of the writing and trying to explain that to me. I looked up the poem, and found a video about it. I was showing the video to Linda. She came to the part where there was one word on a page, and the video stopped. I waited for it to continue, because it was about to cover the part where it explained the writing style and the line covering several pages. I thought that maybe Linda had paused the video. I started to say that there was more to the video, but then I heard Linda breathing and realized that she was asleep. I then realized that I was awake in bed and had been dreaming, and Linda was sleeping next to me. The dream seemed so real that I couldn't believe it was only a dream. I felt bad about being so critical and negative about the poem. I felt like I was wrong to criticize something that I didn't understand.
I responded to his email message: "Wow, that is fascinating! Now, I’ll have to consider writing a poem titled, "Chariots of the Blood." But as time is apt to do, it moved on, and I forgot all about composing that poem. Then nearly three months later on March 7, 2020, I ran across that email message, and it hit me like a whirlwind that I should, indeed, write that poem and title it, "Chariots of the Blood."
Staring at the blank screen for a few moments, it hit me: rearrange Ron’s amazingly beautiful description into a a poetic form and see how it looks. So that’s what I did, and with only a few minor changes, the results are the following poem:
Ron's Chariots of the Blood
Linda bought a book of poems.
As I was looking through it,
I saw a poem called "Chariots of the Blood."
The poem had only a few lines,
Yet it was strung out over several pages.
One page had just one word,
Another page a couple more words.
I was criticizing that and saying
It was stupid to waste pages like that.
Linda was justifying the style of the writing
And trying to explain that to me.
I looked online for the poem and found
A video about it.
I was showing the video to Linda.
She came to the part where
There was one word on a page,
And the video stopped.
I waited for it to continue
Because it was about to cover the part
Explaining the writing style
And the line spread over several pages.
I thought that maybe
Linda had paused the video.
I started to say
That there was more to the video,
But then I heard Linda breathing
And I saw that she was asleep.
I finally realized that I was awake in bed
But I had been dreaming,
And Linda was sleeping next to me.
The dream seemed so real
That I couldn't believe it was only a dream.
I felt bad about being so critical
And negative about the poem. I felt
That I had been wrong to criticize
Something that I didn't understand.
Reading of "Chariots of the Blood"
Criticizing What We Do Not Understand
With a few minor technical changes plus placing the prose into poetic quatrains, I have rendered Ron’s dream journal entry a poem. Hiss journal-entry-turned-poem works on many levels, I suggest. It describes the way dreams and reality blend into each other. The dreams seems quite real, likely even more real than most dreams—a phenomenon that surprises the dreamer after waking up from such a realistic dream.
To Ron in his dream, the execution of the poem that he had encountered seemed nonsensical, wasting pages for no reason. But he continued to fill in the possible gaps of his knowledge by seeking more information and he was lucky enough to find a video that offered an explanation for the poem’s technical workings. The video stops, leaving his curiosity for the information thwarted. He will never know what information the video might have offered.
Thus, he felt dissatisfied, knowing he was not going to find out the purpose of the strangely executed poem’s style. Was Linda right about the poem or was his intuition on the money? Not knowing, he will remain frustrated for that coveted bit of information.
But then reality intercedes, that is, he wakes up, and he realizes he has been dreaming. He realizes there was no book of poems, and there was no dispute about the workability of that poem, "Chariots of the Blood," there was no video to stop and thwart his pursuit of knowledge. Linda is still sleeping, and she had been sleeping while he had been galavanting through poetry criticism.
Didacticism in Poetry
Poetry scholars and critics often denigrate and thus discourage the use of "didacticism" in poetry. Poetry is an art form, not a teaching mechanism for imparting lessons in morality and ethics. However, poems, by dramatizing human heartfelt experience, may sometimes dramatize a situation that results in some lesson learned.
In Ron’s "Chariots of the Blood," he demonstrates the efficacy of refraining from critiquing that which one does not fully understand. Because he has done so by showing instead of telling, revealing his own experience instead of merely setting down commands to others, he offers a lesson in holding one’s tongue when the shoe fits.
© 2021 Linda Sue Grimes