Friday, January 29, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Readers Auxiliary Meeting #17” by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Readers Auxiliary Meeting #17” by Mary Soon Lee, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week’s Poet of the Week.  A biography of Ms. Lee may be found in our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” section.

Readers Auxiliary Meeting #17
Mary Soon Lee

"Before we begin," said Victoria,
"How many of you read past “Fellowship
to the end of The Lord of the Rings?"
(and they all had).

     "Only once through?"
     Gary asked Cristina,
     because she is the one
     who reads fastest,
     which is fortunate,
     because she is also the one
     with three young children.

     "This month: once," said Cristina
     (but she first read the book
     when she was ten, and read it again
     when she was ten, and read it again
     when she was ten, and the funny part
     is that tonight is her first chance
     to discuss it).

"It is a truth universally acknowledged,"
said Victoria, "that Tolkien's world-building
is masterful, but many criticize his characterization.
I disagree. He doesn't need to tell me
about Sam's childhood to make me like Sam."

     "It was because of Sam,"
     said Cristina, "that I liked Frodo
     the first time,
     because Sam loved him.
     But now I like Frodo
     for himself --
     when he said to Glóin
     that he would rather see Bilbo--"

"--than all the towers and palaces
in the world," said Victoria. "Yes."

     "I liked Frodo," said Kate,
     "because he's like me.
     He messed up. He was unhappy.
     But I hated Arwen,
     because she's perfect."

     "I loved Arwen," said Gary,
     "because she is perfect."

     "I loved Arwen," said Harold,
     "because she is sad.
     It's all sad,
     the whole book.
     I think Tolkien
     must have been sad
     when he wrote it--"

"--for thirteen years?" said Victoria.
"He started in 1936, and didn't finish
until 1949--"

     "--while he wrote," said Cristina.
     "Maybe he put his sadness
     into his writing.
     But I wish it were longer.
     I could read it forever."

     "Try _The Silmarillion_," said Liz,
     "it took me a whole summer
     and it felt like forever."

     (Cristina didn't say she finished
     _The Silmarillion_ in a week, when she was twelve,
     because Liz was right:
     that week had seemed peculiarly long,
     and she would have given up,
     several times, except that
     Tolkien wrote it.)

"Apart from Arwen," said Victoria,
"was there anything you disliked?"

     Pause.

     "Well," said Kate,
     "I expect I ought to have liked the poems,
     but I didn't.
     I don't like poetry."

"I expect I ought NOT to have liked the poems,
because they weren't inscrutable enough,"
said Victoria, "but I liked them very much.
Perhaps because I am older than most of you,
I particularly liked Bilbo's poem in Rivendell,
'I sit beside the fire and think--'"

     "--yes!" said Cristina,
     "'in every wood in every spring--'"

"'--there is a different green,'"
said Victoria.  "Yes. Exactly."

     The cuckoo clock on the wall
     chirped eight times
     and Cristina told it in her heart
     to stop,
     to let there be time
     to discuss every chapter,
     every poem, every character
     with Victoria
     (and the others, but Victoria most)
     before Antonio came to pick her up,
     and then let time stop again
     so she could tell him everything
     she doesn't have time to say,
     and stop again
     so the children
     could stay in her arms
     longer,
     and never to come
     to nine o'clock
     or the Grey Havens
     or any ending.


Poet's Notes:  When I have free time, my favorite way to spend it is reading. Although I have never belonged to a reading club, writing about one lets me revisit some of my oldest and best friends, such as The Lord of the Rings.

Editor's Note:  I would LOVE to be in that reading club!

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