One Perfect Rose
A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet -
One perfect rose.
I knew the language of the floweret;
‘My fragile leaves,’ it said, ‘his heart enclose.’
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.
Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.
Three Girls by Hazel Hall. William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. 1920. Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920
and in honor of Oregon’s 155th birthday today, here’s a little-studied Portland poet, Hazel Hall, and a 1920 poem of hers called “Three Girls”
W. H. Auden
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.
Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit’s carnal ecstasy.
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.
Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find our mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.
Whatever happens with us, your body
will haunt mine - tender, delicate
your lovemaking, like the half-curled frond
of the fiddlehead fern in forests
just washed by sun. Your traveled, generous thighs
between which my whole face has come and come -
the innocence and wisdom of the placee my tongue has found there -
the live, insatiate dance of your nipples in my mouth -
your touch on me, firm, protective, searching
me out, your strong tongue and slender fingers
reaching where I had been waiting years for you
in my rose-wet cave - whatever happens, this is.
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.
My body will be utterly destroyed,
This hand I love as I have loved a friend,
This body I tended, wept with and enjoyed;
Since there is no escape even for me
Who love life with a love too sharp to bear:
The scent of orchards in the rain, the sea
And hours alone too still and sure for prayer—
Since darkness waits for me, then all the more
Let me go down as waves sweep to the shore
In pride, and let me sing with my last breath;
In these few hours of light I lift my head;
Life is my lover—I shall leave the dead
If there is any way to baffle death.
The Native American Poetics of Walt Whitman and Pablo Neruda
A long overdue comparative study of the American voices in hemispheric poetry, this book brings cross-cultural and interdisciplinary considerations to the work of Whitman and Neruda. Nolan proposes American Indian poetics as the model for the poets’ own poetics.
Seventy-five years ago today—on January 28, 1939—William Butler Yeats died at a boarding house on the French Riviera. He was 73 years old, at the height of his fame and glory. “Mr. Yeats frequently let his mind roam far afield in the realm of fancy,” gushed the New York Times obituary, “and it is for the gentle beauty of such works that he was hailed by many as the greatest poet of his time in the English language.”
But there was no gentle beauty in the three poems by Yeats that appeared in The Atlantic in January 1939, the month the poet died. All of them are brutal pieces of deathbed reckoning.
Read more. [Image: AP]
That, at his hand’s light quiver by her head,
The strange low sobs that shook their common bed
Were called into her with a sharp surprise,
And strangely mute, like little gasping snakes,
Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay
Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away
With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes
Her giant heart of Memory and Tears
Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat
Sleep’s heavy measure, they from head to feet
Were moveless, looking through their dead black years,
By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.
Like sculptured effigies they might be seen
Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;
Each wishing for the sword that severs all.
Now that morning in the little streets
wakes, and is blue with the fluttering wings of birds,
that we walk slowly through the dawn,
saying: morning should be all brightness:
while over this the grey, and over the grey grey again
a dull sun illuminates a thousand compressed atoms
that are pressing…