Friday, September 6, 2013

Poetry Friday: Learning How to Hover

Robert Francis 1901-1987

Contemplating the small hummingbirds in our garden this early September, I offer up another small poem written by Robert Francis, (last week's poem about the farm boy was by RF, too) who was contemplating advice from his not-so-small mentor, Robert Frost.

To the Ghost of Robert Frost

"You've got to learn to hover,"
He said. The way a hummingbird
Hovers over a flower, the way
The flower's fragrance hovers over it.
Not to move on, not to
Keep jumping like a nervous grasshopper
But to hover there until you
Have gathered all that is there
For you or anyone to gather.
"You've got to learn to hover."

This is at the heart of what a poet needs to learn how to do, of course - not flit like a butterfly, not chirp like a nut hatch, not swoop like a swallow, not scold like a crow, but hover.

Definitely knew how to hover....
The Poetry Friday round-up today is hosted by Laura over at AUTHOR AMOK. Head over there to see what other people have posted.


  1. I think teachers need to learn to hover too - thanks for this reminder, Julie, as I get ready for opening day on Monday.

  2. Julie, thank you for sharing this poem. I love its peacefulness and the suggestion that its good to be still (even with those busy wings) once in a while.

  3. The act of 'hovering' however reminds me of a 'mother' watching over every tiny little thing a child does. But yes, it is also an apt word to use for poets, I think. :) Hummingbirds - beautiful.

  4. Myra, I had that response at first when I saw the word "hover." But I think what Francis and Frost meant is that as writers we must learn to stay still, at an emotional distance, and learn to be careful observers. It's a skill that often leads to dis-engagement and detachment (not always attractive - in fact, sometimes kind of cold) rather than the over-protective and over-intrusive behavior of "helicopter parents." Strange, how one kind of hovering can be so different from another!

  5. Nice! Thanks for sharing this.

  6. Thanks for the reminder to slow down, hover, and savor.

  7. I love the word HOVER since it gives me a sense of eavesdropping and observing, which is what a poet does. :)

    Myra's comment reminded me of the words FLIT and FLUTTER, which have conjured up those hovering mothers for me ever since I read THE AWAKENING.

    "The motherwomen seemed to prevail that summer at Grand Isle. It was easy to know them, fluttering about with extended, protecting wings when any harm, real or imaginary, threatened their precious brood. They were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels."