This free verse poem is called “Blessing for the Longest Night” by Jan Richardson:
The occasion of the poem is the night of the winter solstice, which is always near the end of the calendar year.
One year’s end and another one’s start is an important marker of time for many of us. Our language marks time, too. In sentences, verbs mark the passing of time–that is why they’re called “past,” “present,” and “future” tense.
A “progressive” form of a past, present, or future tense verb helps to communicate notions of our actions in time. A progressive verb shows an ongoing action that is happening at some point: past, present, or future.
Some examples to explain it:
“I was typing” – “was typing” is past progressive because it happened some time before now “I am typing” – “am typing” is present progressive because it”s happening right now “I will be typing” – “will be typing” is future progressive because it describes something that will be ongoing action later.
Pick out some of the verbs (action words) that end in -ing in Richardson”s poem. List them, then tell us what observations you can make about what they have in common or the story they tell when you see them in a row. What tone or “feeling” do you get from your list?
Finally, in “Blessing for the Longest Night,” how does Richardson use progressive verbs to establish the poem’s tone?