Monday, December 5, 2011

52 Poems (weeks 37 & 38)


I'm not sure where the week goes. I have best intentions to do my 52 Poems entry with a found poem, a read poem or a sugested poem, but somehow I keep losing weeks. So, again, it's a double dose week - last week's poem and one for this week as well.  

Week 37

I hadn't known that Charlotte Bronte had also written poems. I should have guessed, as what else would the lonely girl who writes Jane Eyre do with her life but write in whatever form she needed, what else would the sister of writer sisters do but write? This is 'The Letter'.
What is she writing? Watch her now,
How fast her fingers move !
How eagerly her youthful brow
Is bent in thought above !
Her long curls, drooping, shade the light,
She puts them quick aside,
Nor knows, that band of crystals bright,
Her hasty touch untied.
It slips adown her silken dress,
Falls glittering at her feet;
Unmarked it falls, for she no less
Pursues her labour sweet.

The very loveliest hour that shines,
Is in that deep blue sky;
The golden sun of June declines,
It has not caught her eye.
The cheerful lawn, and unclosed gate,
The white road, far away,
In vain for her light footsteps wait,
She comes not forth to-day.
There is an open door of glass
Close by that lady's chair,
From thence, to slopes of mossy grass,
Descends a marble stair.

Tall plants of bright and spicy bloom
Around the threshold grow;
Their leaves and blossoms shade the room,
From that sun's deepening glow.
Why does she not a moment glance
Between the clustering flowers,
And mark in heaven the radiant dance
Of evening's rosy hours ?
O look again ! Still fixed her eye,
Unsmiling, earnest, still,
And fast her pen and fingers fly,
Urged by her eager will.

Her soul is in th' absorbing task;
To whom, then, doth she write ?
Nay, watch her still more closely, ask
Her own eyes' serious light;
Where do they turn, as now her pen
Hangs o'er th' unfinished line ?
Whence fell the tearful gleam that then
Did in their dark spheres shine ?
The summer-parlour looks so dark,
When from that sky you turn,
And from th' expanse of that green park,
You scarce may aught discern.

Yet o'er the piles of porcelain rare,
O'er flower-stand, couch, and vase,
Sloped, as if leaning on the air,
One picture meets the gaze.
'Tis there she turns; you may not see
Distinct, what form defines
The clouded mass of mystery
Yon broad gold frame confines.
But look again; inured to shade
Your eyes now faintly trace
A stalwart form, a massive head,
A firm, determined face.

Black Spanish locks, a sunburnt cheek,
A brow high, broad, and white,
Where every furrow seems to speak
Of mind and moral might.
Is that her god ? I cannot tell;
Her eye a moment met
Th' impending picture, then it fell
Darkened and dimmed and wet.
A moment more, her task is done,
And sealed the letter lies;
And now, towards the setting sun
She turns her tearful eyes.

Those tears flow over, wonder not,
For by the inscription, see
In what a strange and distant spot
Her heart of hearts must be !
Three seas and many a league of land
That letter must pass o'er,
E'er read by him to whose loved hand
'Tis sent from England's shore.
Remote colonial wilds detain
Her husband, loved though stern;
She, 'mid that smiling English scene,
Weeps for his wished return.

Week 38

In 1998, I lived in the UK and worked for a family that had a very strange CD and book collection. In amongst the shelves I would raid regularly, I found a copy of one of Rod McKuen's Christmas poem books, dating back to the 60s or 70s when all the young bankers were still buying hippy books and hadn't completely closed their hearts to contemporary culture. Not sure which one, but I scribbled down some of the poems and have them stashed away on yellowing paper somewhere. So in the spirit of the Christmas season, I've looked up another. And given Rod is alive and well (or at least, his website indicates as much), what is below is only a small portion of 'Gift Without Strings'.
...Though I give you only words
to unravel on this Christmas day
and words may not seem
such a pretty present,
if you let them work for you
one day you'll thank me
with a shining smile
brighter than the one I'm sending
                         out and over
to your young face now.

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