From a City Dweller to Her Love [Poetry Friday]

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)

Sara’s daughter, Rebecca, who’s been joining us recently (yay!), posed our challenge this month: a pastoral. She wrote: Some inspiration from The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms: “The pastoral is central to poetry. In a simplified definition, it is that mode of poetry that sought to imitate and celebrate the virtues of rural life. […] By the end of the sixteenth century, and the start of the seventeenth, the pastoral convention had become one of the true intellectual engines of poetry. On the surface, it appeared to be about an ornamental and sometimes fictional view of the rural and bucolic life. But huge questions lurked below that clear surface. In the pastoral mode poets could experiment with these questions, some of which verged on a philosophical subversion of traditional religious themes in poetry. Was man made for nature or nature for man? Was the natural world to enter the poem as a realistic object or as a fictive projection of inner feelings? Would the natural world always enter the poem shadowed by the religious myths of the Garden of Eden and man’s fall?”

I was totally intimidated by this. I love nature poetry…not necessarily rural but wild, but I kind of struggled with this one. Still, a challenge is a challenge, so here’s what I ended up with. Not really a pastoral so much as a parody of a pastoral, but it’s all I’ve got.

Some of you might remember we moved from the suburbs to the city about a year ago. (This picture is taken from our front porch.) And there are SO many things I really do enjoy about it: living near the capitol building; living within a mile of my husband’s work; being much closer to many children’s literature events; easy access to concerts, museums, etc.; living in a more diverse city (though our previous townhome community was pretty diverse, too); and more. However, there is also some culture shock. City living is louder and more aggressive. Our street is generally pretty quiet, but sometimes there will be someone walking down the street screaming into her cell phone, having a fight with someone. We won’t go to any of the nearby fast food restaurants because there is a better than 20% chance there will be parents screaming at their kids, saying horrible things, or angry customers talking to the employees in really threatening ways. And in August, two shooting deaths (on the streets, in daylight) happened within a mile of our place. So…it’s an adjustment, for sure. This poem exaggerates the scariness because…poetic license!

Check out the rest of the pastoral poems–most of them actually pastoral:>)





Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations. 

Cheriee at Library Matters has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week. Check it out, and learn about a new (to me, anyway) poet!




21 Responses

  1. I adore this poem! I love that it made me laugh and miss my little house in the city. I think you’ve nicely risen to the challenge, even if you’ve gone at it slant.

  2. I live in the city, too, with lots of trees as your picture shows, but there are those moments of anger I see as people walk by. And I’m wishing they’d left their phones at home so they could enjoy what’s there surrounding them. Your poem reflects more than nature’s bounty, but human nature, which those pastoral poets ignored, right? I’m interested to see the others, too!

  3. I like the opening invitation and the shifting back and forth between the good and the less good.

  4. Ha! Your pastoral made me laugh out loud. I grew up in a small town and ended up moving to a city after university. We now own a house in that same town. There is much I adore about both places, but I definitely adore the diversity in the city where schools are mini united nations. On the other hand, I also adore the quiet of the small town and the ability to see stars at night.

  5. I am enjoying this poem very much and keep reading it. Your porch sounds lovely! Friendly invitation, lovely flowers, and never boring!

  6. (I’m checking back to see if my first comment got eaten for sure. If it did, I just came back to say I love this!)

  7. Wit, thy name is LAURA. I don’t know that I’ve seen this sly, biting side of you, but I love it. You have nailed the pastoral satire, and it is both uneasy…and hilarious. (I’m a city dweller, too, most of the time.)

  8. I love how you’ve made the form your own by writing about your surroundings. I grew up in a small town, but have lived in the country most of my adult life. I love visiting the city and love retreating back to where cows are the nearest neighbors and the cicadas sing me to sleep at night.

    1. I love your choice of “retreating,” because it does capture the feel of the city as a kind of war zone. A shoplifter stabbed a security guard last weekend at the little upscale grocery store downtown we stop by once or twice a week. Sigh.

  9. Your poem made me chuckle and smile–so much there I can relate to, as I too live in the city, while we have many trees we have all of the above you’ve so skillfully included–I like your take on pastoral, it’s breathing and alive!

  10. Hahaha, I love this interpretation of the pastoral. I think “modern” engagements with classic forms often start as parody, but still find some truth?

  11. Laura, for a person who struggled with the pastoral poem, I see you pulled it altogether. You poem is quite funny and certainly gives us a hint of the beauty of the pastoral (lines 1,3,5) but is full of city vibes. Great job!

  12. I love this poem. We’ve lived in the burbs and in the country, but we absolutely love our visits to the city for all of the reasons you listed. However, it’s those shots fired that kept us from ever considering a move to the city while we were raising our kids.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,492 other subscribers

Are You Looking For?

Poetry Friday posts

Classroom Connections posts

All my poetryactions

Go to my Poetry page for:

  • National Poetry Month projects through the years
  • Small Reads Roundups (poems grouped by topic)
  • Introductions to several favorite poetry forms
#waterpoemproject15 Words or Less Poems20for2030 Painless Classroom Poems50 State Poemsacrosticsactivity pagesactivity sheetALAA Leaf Can Be...Amy Ludwig VanDerwaterA Need to FeedanthologiesanthologyA Rock Can projectsaudiopoemsawardsbad newsBarbara Juster EsbensenBilly Collinsbiopoemsblog tourbookalikesbook festivalsBookSpeak!book spine poemsbook trailersbop poembyr a thoddaidcafepresscalendar poemsCamp Read-a-LotCan Be... bookscan be... poemsCapstoneCarol Varsalonacascade poemsCatherine FlynnCCRA.W.3CCRA.W.4CCRA.W.5centoschapter bookschoral compositionschristina rossetticinquainsCLAclassified ad poemsclassroom connectionclassroom connectionsClover Kittyconferences and conventionscrown sonnetscybilsdansaDare to DreamDavid Elliottdeeper wisdom poemdefinitosdiamantesdiversitydizaindodoitsuDot DayDouglas Floriandownloadablesdrum corpse.e. cummingsekphrastic poemsepistolary poemsequation poemsessentialethereeseventsexquisite corpseFairy Tale Garage Salefamilyfibonaccifiction picture booksfinding familyfirefightersforeign editionsfound poemsfree author zoomsfree versefrom studentsgeesegeorgia heardghazalGift Taggiveawaygolden shovelgoldilocksgratitudehaikuheart of aheart of a teacherHeidi MordhorstHelen FrostHighlightshow-to poemshow to make a rainbowI Am FromI Am poemsidiomsif you want to knit some mittensIf You Were the MoonILAimagepoemsinterviewin the middle of the nightIRAIrelandIrene LathamJ. Patrick LewisJanet WongJoyce SidmanKendraKerlanKidlit Comboslailaura's board booksLaura's booksLaura's poemsLaura's readingsLaura ShovanLee Bennett HopkinsLilian MoorelimericksLinda Booth SweeneyLion of the Skylist poemslittle free librarylive writingLullaby and Kisses Sweetlyricsmadness poetrymargaret simonMarilyn Singermary lee hahnmask poemsMeet My FamilyMelissa StewartMentors for Rentmentor textsmetaphorMichelle Myers LacknerMillbrookMinnesota Book Awardsmoonmy reading lifemy writing processN+7naaninarrative poemsNational Poetry Month 2012 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2014 (riddle-ku)National Poetry Month 2015National Poetry Month 2016National Poetry Month 2017 (#wonderbreak)national poetry month 2018 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2020National Poetry Month 2021 (#EquationPoem)national poetry month 2022 (sticky-note poems)National Poetry Month 2023 (Digging for Poems)ncteNerdy Book Clubnifty newsnifty stuffNikki Grimesnonfictionnonfiction booksNonfiction Writers Dig Deepnovelsnovels in verseodesOne Minute Till BedtimeoppositifyOskar's VoyagepadletpantoumsparodiesPatreonpeacepersonalpet poemsphotopoetryphrase acrosticspicture booksplagiarismpoempicspoemspoems for two voicespoemsketchpoetic pursuitsPoetry 7poetryactionspoetry activitiesPoetry Blastpoetry booksPoetry FridayPoetry Friday AnthologiesPoetry Princessespoetry promptspoetry sistersPoetry Tips for Teachersprogressive poempublishing processpuddle songPutridquotationsraccontinosRandy Salasread-aloudreadaloudreading poetry in the classroomRebecca Kai Dotlichrecipe poemsrefugeesresearchreviewsrevisionrhyming booksrhyming nonfictionrhyming picture booksRhyming Picture Books the Write Wayrhyming poemsRiddle-kuriddle poemsRock Can Be...Rock the Blogrondeau redoublesRudyard Kiplingsalas snippetsSCBWIschool visitsScotlandseasonssecrets of the loonSELsestinasshrinking daysskinnyskypeslice of lifesmall readssnack snooze skedaddlesnowman-coldsonnetsStampede!storm poemstorytimestorywalkstudent poemsstudent workSylvia VardellTanita Davistankatautogramteachableteacher resourcesteen/adult poemsterza rimasthankfulthank yous and referencesthe business sidethings to do iftracy nelson maurertrioletstunie munson-bensonvideosVikram MadanvillanellevillanellesWater Can Be...wealthy elementaryWe BelongWhat's InsideWhy-kuwinterwonderwonderbreakword of the yearwordplaywordsmithswork for hirewritingwriting bookswriting processwriting promptswriting the life poeticyoung authors conferencesYouTubeZap Clap Boomzenozentangle
Show More Show Less

Join Laura's monthly newsletter for eductators

Get three of Laura's favorite poetry activities when you subscribe to "Small Reads."