Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fairy Tale Logic : Poem In Your Post

Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:
Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,
Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat,
Select the prince from a row of identical masks, 
Tiptoe up to a dragon where it basks
And snatch its bone; count dust specks, mote by mote,
Or learn the phone directory by rote.
Always it’s impossible what someone asks—

You have to fight magic with magic. You have to believe
That you have something impossible up your sleeve,
The language of snakes, perhaps, an invisible cloak,
An army of ants at your beck, or a lethal joke,
The will to do whatever must be done:
Marry a monster. Hand over your firstborn son.

                                    - A. E. Stallings

Thank you, once again, A.E. Stallings.  From Homer to Dante to Rowling, all seem to get the nod from this lauded contemporary poet. 

I am drawn to the concreteness of her images (and symbols), and her use of the sonnet form to contain centuries' worth of dire risks, fell bargains, and transcendent magic.

I hope you find yourself rereading it a few times, enjoying its subtle balance of humor and gravity, returning in memory to all the fantasies and fairy tales that shape your consciousness and our shared culture.

And perhaps you'll be tempted to explore twenty-one of her poems, here on her page at the Poetry Foundation website.


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