Sunday, April 18, 2010

National Poetry Month

Erotic Horizon or EH (click on post title) tossed out an idea to celebrate National Poetry Month, and Jen at Well Read passed it on. How could a former English teacher resist?

Below are several love poems that I treasure. Be prepared for some quirky punctuation, capitalization, phrasing, and spacing. All are intentional.

W. B. Yeats

It's through this poem that Jackson Spey first acknowledges his feelings for Adin Swift. (The scene, which takes place at the end of Obsessed, is one of my favorites from all my books.) So of course, the poem now has even more resonance for me. Writers are loopy that way. :-)

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face among a crowd of stars.


e. e. cummings

Two pieces by an early-twentieth-century American poet. I've adored his work since I was a teenager.

i like my body when it is with your
body. It is so quite a new thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
-firm-smooth ness and which i will
again and again and again
kiss; i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh . . . . And eyes big love-crumbs,

and possibly i like the thrill

of under me you quite so new


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)


Emily Dickinson

My favorite poem by America's most creatively supercharged spinster. There's such uncompromising ferocity as ED transforms anguish into anger into transcendent energy. A lot is going on here. Like the pun in the word bridalled; the telling switch in pronouns from "us women" to "when you hold."

Like others, I can only speculate what the poem is about: the unique martyrdom of frustrated love, and a longing for as well as rebellion against the conventions of mid-nineteenth-century marriage. Finding Mr. Right and joining with him seems to be, in ED's view, a revitalizing, swoon-inducing death sentence -- an experience that's exhilarating but ultimately stultifying. She craves it and spurns it; she both celebrates and mourns the fact she's been denied it. The final, ambiguous question is wrenching. What's "this"? The mixed blessing that is marriage, or the mixed blessing that is ED's solitary, internalized life? (Sorry for the exposition, but that's how my mind was trained to work!)

Title divine — is mine!
The Wife — without the Sign!
Acute Degree — conferred on me —
Empress of Calvary!
Royal — all but the Crown!
Betrothed — without the swoon
God sends us Women —
When you — hold — Garnet to Garnet —
Gold — to Gold —
Born — Bridalled — Shrouded —
In a Day —
Tri Victory
"My Husband" — women say —
Stroking the Melody —
Is this — the way?


Chris said...

I hadn't read either of those ee cummings' poems and I really liked them! Thanks. :)

Chris said...

Whoa. I subscribed to the comment thread. When I look at it in gmail? My first comment shows up as actually being at Wren's. *boggle*

Jenre said...

These are wonderful poems, KZ. I especially like the ee cummings. I have a book of his poems somewhere and I must go and dig them out.

Tam said...

You're a romantic aren't you. Love the first one. I think perhaps my brain is too literal, hence I find poetry rather frustrating. If you want to say you like something or dislike it, just say it already.

K. Z. Snow said...

Tam, :-D

I think cummings is a favorite of many poetry readers. He can be romantic, cutting, exuberant, droll. There aren't many writers who've combined verbal with graphic expression. I just love him!

Erotic Horizon said...

I have only read the second one before - I have always though it was a decadent piece...

Phrases like this

i like my body when it is with your body. It is so quite a new thing

Stands out for me... i think it suits the m/m genre alot...

Thank for the intro to the other two pieces and for taking part as well....

Happy Sunday..


K. Z. Snow said...

Hi, EH! That was a great idea you had. I'm sure you got a lot of people scrambling to look up poems they hadn't thought about in a while.

The cummings is so joyfully, innocently carnal that it's really refreshing, I think.

Lily said...

Wonderful selection of poems.

I especially like ee cummings. I can't believe I didn't think of him when I did my post.

I had not read the Yeats poem, very nice.

Lea Sinclair said...

Hi KZ! Here is my favorite e.e. cummings poem:

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility: whose texture compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closesand opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody,not even the rain, has such small hands

I love Yeats, too. "When You Are Old" is one of my favorites. I also love Yeats "A Deep Sworn Vow".

K. Z. Snow said...

Hi, Lea! Thank you for posting that cummings poem. It's one of his most romantic (and I think was pivotal in the Woody Allen movie Hannah and Her Sisters).