Letters to the World: Murray’s Poetry Workshop

The writing prompt for my (LLIChesterfield.org) Poetry Workshop was to use Emily Dickinson’s untitled Letter to the World poem as an inspiration: Here is Emily’s short poem:

This is my letter to the world

That never wrote to me,–

The simple news that Nature told,

With tender majesty.

To hands I cannot see;

For love of her, sweet countrymen,

Judge tenderly of me!

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Murray Ellison was inspired to write back to Emily:

“Letter back to Emily”

Greetings Dear Emily,

I hope you are in good Spirits

Your countrymen have judged you Tenderly

Since you left our Assembly

Your words have reached us from a box that once held your shoes

Like sun streaked shadows lying across an old locked cabin’s floor.

Though we can’t always unlock the clues,

We wish you had left us so much more!

Today, many a great poet’s words are, still, not read,

Sealed tight in a mouldering box that no one ever sees.

It must have been quite a sting for you to become so energized after you were dead!

You’d be so sad to see, our Queen Bees, are dying off from some simply infectious disease.

 

Tetragonula carbonaria (14521993792).jpg

 

 

Lydia Aikens-Wilson, who was the subject of my recent Blog, “Learning About Life and French,” wrote the following poem reminiscing about some of the happy times of her youth:

“Perpetual Motion”

In the early 60’s, I was in my 20’s

I walked everywhere and my friends were plenty.

I could not drive, thus, I had no car.

Some distances I walked were really quite far.

I taught school and to school, I walked each day.

All the neighbors knew me; often the kids wanted to play.

Walking kept me in shape, as I weighed a little over one hundred.

I could even run; dogs were never a threat, never a dread.

My students called me”Road Runner” as they saw me passing by.

These were “the good old days;” seldom was heard a remorseful sigh.

We all respected each other and many also strolled.

Thus, I was never alone on the streets; you’d think we were preparing

for the Olympic Gold.

We stayed in shape; most of us were slim.

But now we are stout and our eyes are growing dim.

Cars get us everywhere now; walking’s a far-fetched notion.

Yet we reminisce on the days when we were in perpetual motion.

 

File:Women in Bathing Suits North Africa 1944.gif

 

 

Nancy Kunnmann (Nan) was inspired to write a poem that used all of her senses. It expresses an appreciation for what the world has given to her and what she has given back:

“Given to the World”

I give to the world my mind, to know

What I did right

I give to the world my eyes, to see all

things through my sight.

I give to the world my ears, listening

to things I hold dear.

I give to the world my lips, to say

the words I long to hear

My arms are outstretched, to touch

the brilliance I behold.

My legs keep walking, to feel much

more as I grow old.

My footsteps leaving marks, to show

the world that I have grown.

My body to remain, as my soul floats

into the unknown.

File:Outstretched Arms.jpg

Using Lao Tzu’s first poem, The Tao that Can be Spoken, in the Tao Te Ching, and Emily Dickinson’s untitled poem, It Sifts from Leaden Sieves, I asked my participants to write a poem for next week’s class on a subject that is understood, but not specifically stated. Also, if our Blog readers want to send me any poems on this topic, or on A Letter to the World, I would give consideration to publishing them on LitChatte.com. Please send them via an M.S.Word Document (with separate visual or photo images) to my email at Ellisonms2@vcu.edu.

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Murray Ellison received a Master’s in Education (1973) and in English Literature (2015). He earned a Doctorate in Education in 1987. He is married and has three wonderful adult  daughters. He retired as the Virginia Director of Community Corrections for the Department of Correctional Education in 2009. Currently, he serves as a literature teacher, board member, and curriculum advisor for the Lifelong Learning Institute in Chesterfield, Virginia. He is the founder and chief editor of the literary blog, www.LitChatte.com, an editor for the Correctional Educator Journal, and editing a book of poetry written by an Indian mystic and meditation teacher. Murray also serves a board member and volunteer tour guide, poetry judge, and all-around helper at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond Virginia. You can write him at ellisonms2@vcu.edu or leave comments on the LitChatte.Com Blog.

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