poetry critical

online poetry workshop



Leaf
unknown

You might think I want to stay up here,
 1
swaying gently in sweet scented breezes.
 2
 
 
You might believe I dread the slow decline of sap
 3
through my translucent veins,
 4
my change to scarlet, orange and brown,
 5
the vibrant green of my youth fading, fading.
 6
 
 
You would be wrong.
 7
 
 
Oh, I did enjoy the freedom of the swing,
 8
the suck of sweet sap that made me supple for a time,
 9
the sound of bees, the smell of my blossom cousins,
 10
and the breath-held wonder of the apples of our tree
 11
 
 
but now I’m old
 12
 
 
and the thought of disconnection,
 13
of softly drifting down
 14
to finally touch that earth below me -  
 15
seen but never felt -
 16
and me, clothed in vibrant farewell colors,  
 17
 
 
gives me peace.
 18
 
 
Now the sap has frozen in my veins
 19
and I’m letting go my grip
 20
to find my journey down
 21
is elemental and so sweet.
 22
 
 
I lie silent with my sisters,
 23
feeling the gentle nudge of worms
 24
as I turn back into earth and dream again
 25
of blossoms in the Spring.
 26

19 Nov 03

Rated 8.6 (8.1) by 12 users.
Active (12): 8, 9, 10, 10
Inactive (32): 1, 1, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

(define the words in this poem)

(16 users consider this poem a favorite)



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Comments:

Isabelle, what can I say? Another of your recent gems. Very well done. Nice use of the leaf as a metaphor for our lives. The only word choice issue I would have is "worms" in L23--and that may be just me. Excellent! rob
 — unknown

Well, Earthworms are the ones that eat the leaf and turn it back into soil, aren't they? What else would work here? Bacteria? Or maybe insects? Not sure what I could use instead of worms. Worms are a good thing, I like them. It wasn't like the old poem "the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out." More like the worms nibbling something lucious.
 — Isabelle5

Isabelle, this is lovely, really; so I won't waste your time by spouting your endless talents from the infinite list. The one thing that irked me a little bit was your overall tone. I felt that a more subtle approach would strengthen the poem. There were many options to wording the poem, but you probably chose one that fit your voice better. For example, the opening could have been: "Do you think I want to stay up here?" or "I don't want to stay up here." (thus negating l7).
But you might try another approach:

"To stay up here
swaying gently in sweet scented breezes.

To dread the slow decline of sap
through my translucent veins,
the change to scarlet then orange then brown,
the vibrant green of youth fading, fading.

Don't think I care."

I know it says something different, but I'm not good enough to build a better poem out of something like this. I was just trying to encapsulate a less intrusive atmosphere, which is more like an actual leaf. A leaf rarely makes demands, but your leaf almost pleads with the reader. That is amazing in and of itself, but I have a personal trouble with it. However, if most commentators have something better to suggest, don't worry about it. Besides, this poem speaks volumes as it is.

-zepp
 — zepplin42

I like it the way Isabelle wrote it.
 — unknown

Me, too. Loved it.
 — unknown

Zepp, perhaps you missed the place the leaf is coming from. This leaf is saying that she understands that watching the leaves turn and fall, you feel sad for them but don't. It's their desire to change and fall and come back again as a blossom or a leaf or an apple. It's their destiny and joy to fall and grow again.
 — Isabelle5

And I meant to add that I think people get that way, too. My grandmother was 98 when she died and she was ready to let her body go to dust so that her spirit could be young and reborn.
 — Isabelle5

Very good explanation Isabelle. Leave the poem as written. It is quite good.

Are you still at work btw???
 — unknown

Yes, I'm still at work. I needed a little break, though. Sigh...it's the busy season and I love my job.
 — Isabelle5

I think this is the best of your poems so far Isabelle. Good stuff. dkm
 — unknown

I have never read a poem told through the eyes of a tree! This is amazing Isabelle! I absolutely loved this! I love " I did enjoy the freedom of the swing......" That is a fabulous stanza!
 — Betty

Oops! I mean LEAF! LOL!
 — Betty

A great read
 — unknown

I agree with Rob, this is nothing short of perfect.
 — boothben

Absolutely beautiful.
 — pearl

you make a leaf seem real and avoid a pedestrian poem by touches of class - liked it mate
 — Caducus

very discriptive love the writting text i can really paint a picture in my head
 — unknown

I liked it a lot but lines 19-25 were my favorite.
 — escondo

Oh, I wish that I'd checked this out oh so long ago. But it's past, and now is now. I meant in my first comment that the tone of the poem was not as comforting and assuring only because you were writing in a demanding tone instead of a passive tone. I thought (and still think) that the passive tone more adequately fits the character of the leaf.
-zepp
 — unknown

dang.......(speachless for a moment) its great but almost sad knowing its writen by a person but still its got an "eligant" type side (if that the word for it, i dont know) and i like that type of poem
-Sarah
 — unknown

WRITTEN BY A PERSON???  i thought it was written by a LEAF!!
 — unknown

Wow... Lovely imagery. Good job!
 — honestcrime

nice work
 — davidm

Very very nice!
Its different (like most poems) and its beautiful in a way.
And you know, I IS probably just me, but, its sad.
Maybe its the way I'm feeling now. (meaning - I'm half asleep, and i should go to bed.)

Uruviel (LOTR obsessed)
 — unknown

I agree with zepps comment about changing the tone to be more passive.  I like the poem as it is, but I think if you could manage to change the tone to something more like zepps idea then the message of the poem would come off more powerfully.
 — openminds

good but to old!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 — unknown

This is a really interesting perspective.  It was refreshing in that way.  The way you closed it was my favorite part.  I look forward to reading more of what you have wrote.    Sarah or stes0007
 — stes0007

stupid.
 — unknown

I've read several of your poems, trying to decide what to comment on.  This is my favorite, and about to be added to my favorites list.  This flows beautifully, and the images you paint are so clear.  The narrative in this poem is excellent, and you have established a clear atmospheric feeling throughout.  Just absolutely beautiful.  This is excellent work.
 — akiikii

juvinile
 — unknown

Your poems keep popping up today, this was my "random poem".  Glad it was because I really enjoyed it.  You often touch upon my own life experiences.  Great poem.
 — jodieal

now that i think about it, i have read a lot of your poems before, ages ago when i was on the quest to read all the poems, i was so dilusional. but anyway, i love this, it's in my favourites, has been there for ages, since i first read it, all those months ago.

whenever i read one of your poems before, i quietly enjoyed it, i didn't comment much, or rate, or even associate them with you.
 — Lia

Ah, I needed to be reminded of this today.  Thank God for random acts of Poetry god kindness!  
 — Isabelle5

wow! I really like this Isabelle5.  the progression is nice.  the ending is sweet.  Your poem is so gentle, L23 "worms" could be a little intrusive.  I love trees, fall, & this poem.  well done.
 — Peter

Oh, here I am!  What a surprise, this just drifted down today, like the leaves of the maple tree outside my new bedroom window.  
 — Isabelle5

Yet again I am blown away by you Isabelle. You write in a way that inspires me. I loved this poem.
 — scarlet_muse

Well, you're new and very good for my ego!  Thank you for liking my poems.  
 — Isabelle5

genius
 — Odin

i love the different perspective you offer with this poem.
 — inutile

cool
 — starfruit

Here's a hint, though, Unknown.  When you insult someone, it's really important that you spell every word correctly or your own ignorance shows.

Your should have been you're.  Keep trying, I bet you can spell hard words like that!
 — Isabelle5

really liked it, not my usual cup of tea but very well done...
 — GLyons

Hey, Glyons, your book view is EXACTLY what this poem is about!  How curious is that@
 — Isabelle5

AMAZING!!!!!!!!!
inspiring!
tells us to do something with ourlives before it is too late and to not regret! No?
 — unknown

Oh, Isabelle.  What a beautiful poem this is!  It was a "random" when I signed on to P.C.  (I think it was a sign too)!  Of all people's poems, yours pops up!!!  Hehe.
Anyway, now I know what it must feel like to be a leaf.  The vernacular here is impeccable and the images are just tantalizing.  So well executed.  My only beef is in L15.  It's the word "that" which when combined with the "that" in the following line creates a CLUNK.  If you changed the first "that" into a "the" or vice-versa, I think it would flow even more freely.  Food for thought.  I love this poem.  "10" and a favorite for me anyway.  
 — starr

Starr, took your advice and changed line 15.  Glad you like it and imagine me, writing metaphor!  Get your skates, Hell must be frozen!  hahaha
 — Isabelle5

Dear Isabelle

What a beautiful poem
 — larrylark

different.
 — unknown

Returning your comment :)
I liked it on my first read more than not; here's a few of my issues:
1, 3,  7 - All of these lines start with "You."  You you you, and then we lose that contact with the reader.
7 - Overdone, and accusative, I think.  Perhaps, "But I am not."
4 - Translucent - Word choice, necessity?
17 - Vibrant - I don't really like this word in poetry, and especially due to it's connotations of being full of life, don't think it fits here, and is also inaccurate to the leaf, which would retain a single color, not many.
21 - Elemental - a bit of an abstraction - what do you mean, by Elemental?  Why is it relevant to mention it, and is there a better way to put it?


All in all a pleasant read, with nothing really in there for grammar that I could see.  A nice counterpart to "Do not go gentle into that good night."
 — technomancer

Thanks for the comments and questions.  This is not only about a leaf, I'm sure everyone who 'does' metaphor got that.  Older people can be vibrant, filled with energy balanced by the peace that comes from having lived a full life.  

This was my attempt at explaining to someone young that death is not a hardship, it is a reward and another piece of the spirit's journey, done without regret.

Elemental - the carbon, the dust, the bones, that which remains to be used again by the planet.  

Try to imagine this being said to a child in her grandmothers arms, while they sit in a rocking chair, quietly and happily.  
 — Isabelle5

Amazing!
 — rainfall86

hey itz AZpoo  you had a good point on my story! this is really really good!  
 — AZpoo

I love this...it really does portray our lives, and I think it's wonderful that you used a leaf, of all things, as the message.
 — ashley87

this is pretty good...there is a solid foundation for a powerful poem here.
perhaps, it might be better if you rewrote it without all the 'you might think' 'you might believe' 'you could be wrong' all of those seem to weaken the writing.

Also, it is tough to write poetry dealing with spring, the turning of seasons, blossoms etc. without approaching clicke. The best way to do this is to avoid a lofty, airy diction. All those adjectives like gentle (which you use more than once), sweet (which you use way too often) vibrant (which you use more than  once), transluscent. You can give the image of these without saying them. Saying them is too easy. Showing them is poetry.

you can say everything you are saying now, using only two-thirds the words.
you have a great poem here, you just need to dust off the dirt.
 — joshcoops

very good work despite being a bit plodding at times
 — poetbill

I understand the reason for using the word fading twice on line 6; it makes perfect sence to intelligent people, but most readers aren't so intelligent and can be thrown by it, disregarding the comma between the two words. Lines 11 & 12 may need a comma at the end. This is really a great poem.
 — Steeleman

wonder picture described here Isa - love the format and layout too .. it drifts into sentiment, as it should, because it is about reflection..

one thing missing though, perhaps, I often see leaves as the 'solar panels' of a tree - absorbing and converting light into energy... and there is no mention of the Sun here..  

that is not a criticism though :)

a pleasant read..

~ Mong
 — Mongrol

Ohhhh how I love this. Gives me peace, too.. and a sort of pleasant sad twinge in the heart. The only thing that could be improved, in my opinion:

"as I turn back into earth and dream again
of Spring"

Lose the bit about blossoms and I think the end will be better.

Thanks!
 — SarahMichele

Thank you.  I cannot drop blossoms, it's part of the cycle, the turning over and over of everything to begin again.  

Thank you, too, Mong.  I don't know if trees think of the Sun, if they are aware of more than the ends of their own boughs.  I could have brought water, wind, the entire natural world into this but I wanted it only from what I think a leaf might be aware of.  
 — Isabelle5

this is well written ~like the lines 19-21 very much
 — Liliana

Just beautiful. Dont change a thing.
 — SteelAngel

do like the way you are thinking about the tree - but i guess i could just add that leaves do indeed turn to face the position of the sun during the day, and trees will indeed even 'twist' thier entire frame in order to catch as much light as possible :)

there's one great tree i know that stands mostly alone and over the years the trunk has grown a 'corkscrew' look to it as it is able to follow the passage of the sun over the entire day..

still a great read Isa ;)
 — Mongrol

hmm
cute! it's a fairly well-wrought poem, for the most part. the repetition of sap was almost an annoyance: "doesn't this person know any other words?!"; but not quite -- sap as a verb is nicely applicable to this poem i think, so that's how i chose to read it. for revision i might suggest a couple things

in line 5 i might replace "and" with "then" to add a hint of the time passage and the change from one colour to the next, rather than a change from one colour (scarlet) to two seemingly simultaneous colours (orange and brown)

my change to scarlet, orange, then brown

in line 13 i'd be inclined to break up "disconnection" in order to actually have the word itself =be= a disconnection; in so doing, there would be a triple bang for the buck as instead of a single word, disconnection, now there would be three words: dis, disconnection, connection. various thoughts/feelings/meanings would therefore be derivative thereof and broaden the appeal of the poem. simple, eh?!

in line 17 i'd change "me" to "I". "me" has already been used in this stanza; "and me" is poor grammar which has not been employed elsewhere in the poem; "and I" has a potent phonetic effect on a savvy reader = "and die". cool!

line 21 the rhythm is goofed over by the "so". why not simply remove it? it seems to add nothing?

itsanicepoem
byebye
 — chuckle_s

and the thought of dis-
connection

sorry, should've demonstrated that
 — chuckle_s

i also like cats!
 — chuckle_s

Boy, it's hard to go back to change a poem that is almost 5 years old.  Thank you for all the suggestions, I'll think about them when I have a minute.  

Keats or Plath, how about some help with the rude comment?  It's really ugly.
 — Isabelle5

I never wished for a woodcutter more than today. did you mean sappy or sap?
 — unknown

the last strphe really sings while the former tell the tale and ready the reader for that insightful end -- sweet is death as Love is her embrace
 — AlchemiA

leave me breathless, this is the best poem i've read in awhile.
such a simple and beautiful title for this too.

i am only going to pick at line 20 and 21.  
i feel the words in 20 are too many.  'letting go' might be enough.
also, 21 is so long and wordy. and the 'so' kills it for me.  (the line, not the poem).

blossom cousins? so lovely!
 — jenakajoffer

someone knocked this off #1 tonight.  man that's weird how they just disappear.  this is the kind of poem that makes me happy to see on that list.
 — jenakajoffer

Someone has been leaving very sick comments on this poem every couple of days, that's what is being deleted.  
 — Isabelle5

death is a lover endlessly coming, thrumming your heart away
no need to fret, worry or muddle, cuddle her as you lay
fall into deep, infinite sleep, weep that you cannot stay
when it's a wake, old lovers and friends will have but words to say

it's a good pome Isabella grrl no matter if it's high or low ya know
 — AlchemiA

L3-6 was the scene from my window today so cheers for this !
 — Caducus

Beautiful and resigned imagery...I very much enjoyed this read!
 — RaynesEnd

Yes, isn't it sad that some fool thought it would be helpful to leave filth on this poem?  
 — Isabelle5

very, very good. =)
 — CNC92

If I ever discover who the harassing Unknown is who has been the cause of all the deleted comments, I will send your information to the FBI and sue you for obscene stalking and harassment.  

imc
 — unknown

and still good to read this piece..
 — Mongrol

I much prefer these inane comments to what has been left.  Though they are still disrespectful to the entire community here, someone playing with poems not their own.  I find that very bad behavior and if I ever get banning powers....
 — Isabelle5

Gabby is only 2, please don't talk about her.
 — Isabelle5

You give yourself way too much credit, Unknown.  
 — unknown

Don’t delete this poem Isabelle, it is one of your best. Your versatility as a poet is amazing.
Line 13  letting go for disconnection?
 — unknown

^isabelle
 — unknown

Believe me, it's easy not to be obsessed with me.  Look at my picture, you will soon be cured!
 — Isabelle5

yeah Isabelle,
you can't delete this and lose all these beautiful comments on your wonderful poem.
they outshine anything nasty ever said.
besides, the date is important.  to me anyway.

i know how you feel, but if we all did this, we'd regret it eventually.
hand in there.
=-)
 — jenakajoffer

ugh, *hang.
hang in there.
 — jenakajoffer

The comments are more interesting than the poem, and those from the past who left them. The poem reads like a greeting card, one maybe to a senior citizen. You have had at least 5 years to improve this poem, I say go ahead and take it down, it needs to be buried somewhere and forgotten, or remade, hopefully, into something less sappy and hallmarkie.
 — unknown

Unknown, I'm no longer responding (after this) to comments that are not helpful AND are left by Unknowns.

If you don't have the courage to post under your own name, I have no reason to trust your judgement.
 — Isabelle5

Unknown, Hallmark sells millions of greeting cards a year.  There is a place for sappy and 10 users consider this a favorite so shut it.
 — unknown

Stop talking to yourself unknown. Hallmark cards are soon forgotten, that is the point.

Isabelle5,
You no doubt are a kind lady, usually, my judgement is sound precisely because I am an unknown, not the other way around. There is no way I would take the abuse you do, I take enough as an unknown, even from sweet California girls.
 — unknown

I am kind, most people seem to be, if you give them a chance.
 — Isabelle5

Sobering, serene, lovely.
 — elphyon

what about the poem, :P
 — syrossoul

Winks at syrosoul!  
 — Isabelle5

soon to be covered leaves, homes for critters of the snow... every word and verse compliments the other, amazing talent and skill... this only proves , borrowed...
writing is a craft and skill, working itself into art, art is when, you can make the reader, see things as you see them, not just hearing, what you say, about them... j.g smiles
 — goeszon

A bland title for such a well-liked poem. ~Henry
 — Poe

A bland title?  Its about a leaf, it's called leaf, what does that have to do with popular or not?  
 — unknown

There's nothing alluring about the title. I wonder why someone would even read it to begin with. ~Henry
 — Poe

heh!  You've been here twice today, poe, gonna make it 3?
 — unknown

Of course it has just dawned me, you are an apple leaf why did you not say so in the title you silly old  crab apple biddy
 — unknown

circle of life
 — bohemian

Isabelle, This is the best of your best. The poem is majestic from beginning to end, and I feel a strange comfort and peace with my own aging every time I read it.  I particularly love the last stanza, which makes tears well up, like when I see art or hear music that's just so perfect I cry.
 — SilverGirl

8.9 is the top of our top ten?  I'll take another pass.

I enjoyed reading it, its well organized and toned, and all good metaphors, but I think you could pay more attention to your word choices and diction, maybe? 13-disconnection (feels more appropriate to a phone) and elemental in 22 still strikes me as something that takes me out of the poem.

I also think that taking the active tense might make some parts stronger; ex.

You might think I want to stay up here,
and sway gently in sweet scented breezes. (1 and 2)

and...

and I let go my grip (20)


Also 17, vibrant farewell colors still feels unspecific, I guess.
 — technomancer

On reflection, you know I love your poems as much as I love to critique Isabelle :) though I often forget it in the comments section.
 — technomancer

Isa-I love that your creativity takes you to ponder the wonderings of a leaf, and that simple action of swinging from a branch and what it can mean...thank you for this imaginative piece ( -:
 — sherains

very classic.

i like it.
 — mould_jesus

This is outstanding Isa. I love everything about it.

Line 11 I love "breath-held wonder".

I can't see anything to quibble with. Have you entered this in any competitions?
 — smugzy

I've never entered any competitions but thank you!
 — Isabelle5

I agree with smugzy, this is beautifully written.
 — PaulS

This reminds me strongly of a Leopardi poem (an imitation of an earlier French one), which has similar imagery of a leaf... I absolutely love the flow and diction of this. Extremely, extremely good.
 — andyleggett

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