This poem, originally written in 1994, was inspired (as so many are) by unrequited love. It was first performed in the SCA at King’s and Queen’s Bardic Champions in February 2015, though I opted not to compete.
© 2000 by Eric Schrager
The sky and earth first meet the moment when
The seed dives through the soil. If water she
Provides it, and with strength and warmth should he
Respond, when shoot breaks forth they touch again.
One might refer to it as love, but too
Soon is it yet, for many seeds that failed
He’s harbored; and thus far, none have prevailed
Of all the young leaves she has whispered through.
The nature of the plant is not in doubt,
However; as to how and if it grows,
The shape it takes, the sort of fruit that goes
Forth from it—wait awhile and you’ll find out;
But in the seed must sky and earth invest
Themselves, before its fullness can be guessed.
I’ll chance it on this seed—I need no reason
Save it’s to my liking. For its toil,
I offer it my warmest, softest soil;
A fertile spot for it to try the season.
But now I worry for it—from the sky
Poured rains which promised so that shoot and roots
Came forth; but now inconstant wind disputes
If green will grow before my land wears dry.
Though Love must many seasons live and grow
Before it blooms, the one in which it’s sprung
Is vital, as it struggles weak and young
For purchase; now it most needs help. And so,
I offer warmth and comfort to sustain
This tender life—and pray for light and rain.
When I wrote the piece originally, I poured the first anguished version out in free verse, and then examined it again the next morning. The poem was long-winded, unfocused, and basically boring to read. It occurred to me that it might work better if I re-worked it into a strict form. I found the resulting double-sonnet below much more satisfying, and using an A-B-B-A rhyme scheme instead of the standard A-B-A-B on the stanzas gave it more subtlety than any other poetry I’d written before. It was my first time recognizing how a tight form improved not only the sound but the substance of a piece, by forcing me to choose my words with much greater care.
Other idiosyncrasies noticed later about this poem were inverting the traditional gender attributed to earth and sky (I was young, and it made it original) and a dependence on dashes for pauses and changes in thought (I was young—I really don’t do that any more).
In 2000, when my friend Arie Moller invited me to join his band and I was looking for material to contribute, I brought the poem out of mothballs and put a tune to it. The song is enjoyable, but its style, modern folk-pop, is a bit jarring for Bardic.