Sunday, April 24, 2011
The Lesson of the Falling Leaves by Lucille Clifton
This was a fairly short poem, in the typical writing style of Lucille Clifton: all lowercase letters and minimal, although in this case completely absent, punctuation. No rhyme scheme or structured style, but there was the repetition of the word "such," as well as the sounds in words "leaves" and "believe." And with the simple structure comes a simple idea. It seems like a cause and effect situation. The leaves believe that letting go of their lives is love, this type of love is faith, having this faith is grace, and this grace is God. It also does remind me of the circle poems we learned about however many years ago, where the idea branches out and then returns to the original subject. In any case, it really made me think about the connection Clifton was making between leaves and trees and what I assumed was loss or death or some other type of letting go. I found that it was kind of a melancholy subject in my mind after I thought about it for a while: the fear of losing anything or anyone to death is quite extreme for me, just because all I can think about is how, once death has claimed something or someone, it will never be reclaimed and it will never return. Kind of a selfish perspective, but that doesn't make me fear it any less. But loss is something people experience every day, and is, as a rule, a part of life. Therefore it must be accepted by those who experience it. But to be able to let go is, in a way, love: if you have lost to death, then what is lost will be in a better place according to most people, including myself. If you have this ability to love, then you usually have some sort of faith in a greater power and a better place to come after life. This faith is beautiful and good; it is grace. And grace is God. Perhaps it is not the most common or obvious connection to have made, but I can certainly see how the relationship makes sense. Clifton finishes the poem by saying "i agree with the leaves." This was a valuable lesson that the leaves communicated to Clifton. It is a true life lesson, that of learning how to let go and move on, and knowing that you are still loving what you've lost, just in a different way. It's something everyone should understand, and something we will all, unfortunately, be faced with.