A Week of Prompts – Light
This is the fourth and last week of daily writing prompts. Today, the subject is light: kinds of light, what it falls upon, and what it means to notice light.
1. Seasonal Light
Write a poem about the light of a particular season. Write about November light, or the light of any other season. Remember the light you experienced in summer, or in spring, when the light shone through the plum blossoms. Below is a poem by Franz Wright that you can use to inspire.
Beginning of November
by Franz Wright
The light is winter light.
You’ve already felt it
before you can open your eyes,
and now it’s too late
to prepare yourself
for this gray originless
sorrow that’s filling the room. It’s not winter. The light
is. The light is
and you’re alone.
At last you get up:
and suddenly notice you’re holding
your body without the heart
to curse its lonely life, it’s suffering
from cold and from the winter
light that fills the room
like fear. And all at once you hug it tight,
the way you might hug
somebody you hate,
if he came to you in tears.
2. Light and Shadow
With light there is also shadow. Describe a moment of light in terms of darkness. Think about the shadow side of things. What did the shadow mean to the light? What type of balance was there? How were you pulled or swayed or drawn to both the shadow and the light?
by Adam Zagajewski
Clear moments are so short,
There is much more darkness. More
ocean than terra firma. More
shadow than form.
3. Inner Light
Write about the experience of connecting with an inner light. Where were you? Describe the sensation itself, and what was going on in the room at the time. How long ago did it happen and how did it change you?
Was it Light
by Theodore Roethke
Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
When you come across an object or element in nature that seems to be lit from within, what does it stir in you? This next poem by Charles Wright shows what happens when we pay attention to the smallest things, a drop of pine sap, when they're backlit by the sun.
High Country Spring
by Charles Wright
It's not so much the description, it's what you describe,
Green pox on the aspen limbs,
Lilac bud-bursts set to go off,
suppuration of late May.
The world is a tiny object, a drop of pine sap,
Amber of robin's beak, like that,
backlit by sunlight,
Pulling the glow deep inside.
4. The Light in Paintings
“A picture must possess a real power to generate light and for a long time now I’ve been conscious of expressing myself through light or rather in light.”
– Henri Matisse
5. Any Patch of Sunlight
“Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience.”
– C.S. Lewis
Your prompt: describe a moment where you had a ‘Godlight’ experience. Was it in a forest? What did it reveal to you?
6. A Time of Day
Notice the sun and how it's different at different times of the day. I love the poem below by Esther Morgan because it describes how the sun in the morning sort of rummages through her kitchen, and then inspires a memory of her grandmother at the end.
by Esther Morgan
I watched the sun moving round the kitchen,
an early spring sun that strengthened and weakened,
coming and going like an old mind.
I watched like one bedridden for a long time
on their first journey back into the world
who finds it enough to be going on with:
the way the sunlight brought each possession in turn
to its attention and made of it a small still life:
the iron frying pan gleaming on its hook like an ancient find,
the powdery green cheek of a bruised clementine.
Though more beautiful still was how the light moved on,
letting go each chair and coffee cup without regret
the way my grandmother, in her final year, received me:
neither surprised by my presence, nor distressed by my leaving,
content, though, while I was there.
7. Kinds of Light
A poem I wrote in my book Asking was inspired by this quotation by Sven Nykvist, and you can riff on it, too.
"Light can be gentle, dangerous, dreamlike, bare, living, dead, misty, clear, hot, dark, violet, springlike, falling, straight, sensual, limited, poisonous, calm and soft."
– Sven Nykvist
My riff on this goes like this:
Light Can Be
by Shawna Lemay
And light can also be wintered, compassionate, worried, filled with birdsong and jasmine tea, sharp, worried, slight, revealing, watery, curious, blue.
Light can be mild, cutting, still, flickering unswerving, bewildering, slanted, easy, difficult, smudgy, foggy, soothing, divine, muscular, oblique, buttery, flimsy, relentless, unasked for, ordinary, inspiring, indefinite.
Light can be nervous, intricate, filigreed, lemony, zen, fizzy, frenetic, bold, weak, soothing and light can be