Saturday, January 28, 2012

Poem In Your Post: Monet Refuses the Operation

Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don’t see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent.  The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases.  Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

                              - Lisel Mueller

A student performed this poem this week in our classroom Poetry Out Loud competition and blew us all away.  I hope you too can feel the evanescent beauty in the glide and shift of Mueller's concrete yet also impressionistic imagining of this conversation between an artistic and a more concrete worldview.

Which poems captured your fancy this week?  Share them with us in the comments (or link to your poem-related blogpost).



L.L. said...

This is beautiful -- I love it! Thank you for sharing.

Parrish Lantern said...

have always loved this poem. here's one for you

Hitodama (Human Soul)

Fetch candle. Death fire. Falling star.
Ignis fatuus. Will O' the wisp. wraith.
Sea spirit. Doppelgänger. Friar's lantern.
soft phosphorescence on the water.

When a soul fails to cross the thin gap
into death, one foot stuck fast in the body
of a man, this blue-white ball of flame
trails over the spit swamp like a trick,
its tail a silhouette of the dead's face.

Do not stare out onto the wet darkness.
Bottle your eyes, blow out the candle.
Forget your instincts, follow your map.
For to see the hitodama is an omen:
you will lose your soul forever in the fen.
Aiko Harman

Laurie said...

LL - Glad you enjoyed it as much as I do.
PL - You too! And your poem's dark beauty lit my memories' darker corners... Is that a modern poet? Time to look up the name...

Parrish Lantern said...

Yes it came from the book I Linked to in my first comment, the Hitodama is

Laurie said...

Thanks, P. I explored the poet's website too: Interesting young woman with a passion for books as well as poetry!

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