the poem as fantasia

Originally posted on Spectral Lyre:

The poem as an occasion of the extraordinary, of imagining, of intenser time.

Marina Tsvetaeva wrote this about Alexander Alexandrovich Blok:

Your name is a—bird in my hand,
a piece of ice on my tongue.
The lips’ quick opening.
Your name—four letters.
A ball caught in flight,
a silver bell in my mouth.

A stone thrown into a silent lake
is—the sound of your name.
The light click of hooves at night
—your name.
Your name at my temple
—sharp click of a cocked gun.

Your name—impossible—
kiss on my eyes,
the chill of closed eyelids.
Your name—a kiss of snow.
Blue gulp of icy spring water.
With your name—sleep deepens.

April 15, 1916

from “Poems for Blok”
translated by Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine

Why did she write such a thing in such a way? I’ll not interrogate personal motivation. I’ll restrict my curiosity to that phrase “in such…

View original 449 more words

“There are many people who are more poetic and more sensitive than some of our best poets. What makes the poet unique is that he has a spiritual memory. He can retain his thoughts and his feelings until he has clarified them in words, and this other people cannot do. This was the gift that had now been given … ” ~ Hans Christian Andersen, “The Magic Galoshes”


“His imagination was so alive, and he felt so tenderly toward the world. Without thinking, he bent down and picked a flower. It was only a daisy that had been growing in the grass, yet it was able to explain to him, in one minute, what it would have taken a botanist long hours to tell. The little flower related the myth of its birth, told of the power of the sun: how it forced its petals to unfurl and give off their lovely scent. This made the poet think of how our lives, too, were a struggle and that it was this that aroused so many of the feelings that we have. Sunlight and air, the flower explained, were her suitors, but sunlight was her favorite, and she obeyed it and always held her head up toward it. When it disappeared and night came, she closed her petals and slept in the air’s embrace. “The sunlight makes me beautiful,” said the daisy. “But it is the air that gives you breath, so you can live,” whispered the poet.”

~ Hans Christian Andersen, “The Magic Galoshes”



Bird of the Heart

“Wild sings the bird of the heart in the forests of our lives.”

~ Mary Oliver, from “Wild, Wild”

I was sad all day, and why not. There I was, books piled
on both sides of the table, paper stacked up, words
falling off my tongue.

The robins had been a long time singing, and now it
was beginning to rain.

What are we sure of? Happiness isn’t a town on a map,
or an early arrival, or a job well done, but good work
ongoing. Which is not likely to be the trifling around
with a poem.

Then it began raining hard, and the flowers in the yard
were full of lively fragrance.

You have had days like this, no doubt. And wasn’t it
wonderful, finally, to leave the room? Ah, what a

As for myself, I swung the door open. And there was
the wordless, singing world. And I ran for my life.

Mary Oliver
New and Selected Poems, Vol. II

Because the bees flew toward light the color of honey, she couldn’t see them
but heard their hum, deep thrum of the colony come out of the hive, comb
dripping with loss and the smoke her father used to subdue, to pacify
the fear that might spur an attack. It wasn’t until her brother began to cry
that she noticed her hair was moving, undulating like water
easing from a rapids, alive with an energy she recognized

As the gentle buzzing of hundreds and hundreds of bees.
They swelled along the strands of her hair, remaking the small world
that floated in front of her eyes, as even more bees curled around her face.
She’d seen the woman at the fair who made a beard of bees
for the crowd of farmers and their families. She read about the love
and patience the woman told the newsman was necessary

As their legs and translucent wings crept and fluttered across
the tender flesh under the chin, fanning cheekbones, slipping
over the helix of the outer ear. Like earrings cut into the loveliest
shapes, with colors of burnished gold and copper,
the bees poured over the girl’s scalp, some finding their way down
the collarbone, onto arms and breasts, abdomens pulsing in time

to the electricity along the hind legs that captured the pollen
for the journey back to the hive. She found it impossible to hold still,
unless she thought of that bearded-bee woman, the affection
that transfixes the body as even more bees conceal the feet
and shins, the knees and thighs, until a girl vanishes, and in her place
a glistening, winged seraph takes to the sky.

Todd Davis
Rattle 45

Enter with riches. Let your image wear
brocade of fantasy, and bear your part
with all the actor’s art and arrogance.
Your eager bride, the flickering moth that burns
upon your mouth, brings to your dark reserve
a glittering dowry of desire and dreams.

These leaves of lightness and these weighty boughs
that move alive to every living wind,
dews, flowers, fruit, and bitter rind of life,
the savor of the sea, all sentient gifts,
you will receive, deserve due ritual;
eloquent, just, and mighty one, adorn
your look at last with sorrow and with fire.
Enter with riches, enviable prince.

Denise Levertov
The Double Image (1946)


Summer Water-Song



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