Read an Excerpt
By Bob Blaisdell
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1999 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Why do you always stand there shivering
Between the white stream and the road?
The people pass through the dust
On bicycles, in carts, in motor-cars;
The waggoners go by at dawn;
The lovers walk on the grass path at night.
Stir from your roots, walk, poplar!
You are more beautiful than they are.
I know that the white wind loves you,
Is always kissing you and turning up
The white lining of your green petticoat.
The sky darts through you like blue rain,
And the grey rain drips on your flanks
And loves you.
And I have seen the moon
Slip his silver penny into your pocket
As you straightened your hair;
And the white mist curling and hesitating
Like a bashful lover about your knees.
I know you, poplar;
I have watched you since I was ten.
But if you had a little real love,
A little strength,
You would leave your nonchalant idle lovers
And go walking down the white road
Behind the waggoners.
There are beautiful beeches down beyond the hill.
Will you always stand there shivering?
Black and scarlet,
Spotted with white,
Fans its wings
Over a privet flower.
A thousand crimson foxgloves,
Tall bloody pikes,
Stand motionless in the gravel quarry;
The wind runs over them.
A rose film over a pale sky
Fantastically cut by dark chimneys;
Candles winking in the windows
Across an old city-garden.
The chimneys, rank on rank,
Cut the clear sky;
With a rag of gauze about her loins
Poses among them, an awkward Venus—
And here am I looking wantonly at her
Over the kitchen sink.
The ancient songs
Pass deathward mournfully.
Cold lips that sing no more, and withered wreaths,
Regretful eyes, and drooping breasts and wings—
Symbols of ancient songs
Down to the great white surges,
Watched of none
Save the frail sea-birds
And the lithe pale girls,
Daughters of Okeanus.
And the songs pass
From the green land
Which lies upon the waves as a leaf
On the flowers of hyacinth;
And they pass from the waters,
The manifold winds and the dim moon,
And they come,
Silently winging through soft Kimmerian dusk,
To the quiet level lands
That she keeps for us all,
That she wrought for us all for sleep
In the silver days of the earth's dawning—
Proserpina, daughter of Zeus.
And we turn from the Kuprian's breasts,
And we turn from thee,
And we turn from the music of old
And the hills that we loved and the meads,
And we turn from the fiery day,
And the lips that were over sweet;
Brushing the fields with red-shod feet,
With purple robe
Searing the flowers as with a sudden flame,
Thou hast come upon us.
And of all the ancient songs
Passing to the swallow-blue halls
By the dark streams of Persephone,
This only remains:
That we turn to thee,
That we turn to thee, singing
One last song.
Thou art an healing wind
That blowest over white flowers
A-tremble with dew;
Thou art a wind flowing
Over dark leagues of lonely sea;
Thou art the dusk and the fragrance;
Thou art the lips of love mournfully smiling;
Thou art the pale peace of one
Satiate with old desires;
Thou art the silence of beauty,
And we look no more for the morning
We yearn no more for the sun,
Since with thy white hands,
Thou crownest us with the pallid chaplets,
The slim colourless poppies
Which in thy garden alone
Softly thou gatherest.
And with slow feet approaching,
And with bowed head and unlit eyes,
We kneel before thee:
And thou, leaning towards us,
Caressingly layest upon us
Flowers from thy thin cold hands,
And, smiling as a chaste woman
Knowing love in her heart,
Thou sealest our eyes
And the illimitable quietude
Comes gently upon us.
To a Greek Marble
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White grave goddess,
Pity my sadness,
O silence of Paros.
I am not of these about thy feet,
These garments and decorum;
I am thy brother,
Thy lover of aforetime crying to thee,
And thou hearest me not.
I have whispered thee in thy solitudes
Of our loves in Phrygia,
The far ecstasy of burning noons
When the fragile pipes
Ceased in the cypress shade,
And the brown fingers of the shepherd
Moved over slim shoulders;
And only the cicada sang.
I have told thee of the hills
And the lisp of reeds
And the sun upon thy breasts,
And thou hearest me not,
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Thou hearest me not.
Au Vieux Jardin
I have sat here happy in the gardens,
Watching the still pool and the reeds
And the dark clouds
Which the wind of the upper air
Tore like the green leafy boughs
Of the divers-hued trees of late summer;
But though I greatly delight
In these and the water lilies,
That which sets me nighest to weeping
Is the rose and white colour of the smooth flag-stones,
And the pale yellow grasses
Use no more speech now;
Let the silence spread gold hair above us
Fold on delicate fold;
You had the ivory of my life to carve.
Use no more speech.
* * *
And Picus of Mirandola is dead;
And all the gods they dreamed and fabled of,
Hermes, and Thoth, and Christ, are rotten now,
Rotten and dank.
* * *
And through it all I see your pale Greek face;
Tenderness makes me as eager as a little child
To love you
You morsel left half cold on Caesar's plate.
Beauty Thou Hast Hurt Me Overmuch
The light is a wound to me.
The soft notes
Feed upon the wound.
Where wert thou born
O thou woe
That consumest my life?
Whither comest thou?
Toothed wind of the seas,
No man knows thy beginning.
As a bird with strong claws
Thou woundest me,
O beautiful sorrow.
O you most fair,
Swayer of reeds, whisperer
Among the flowering rushes,
You have hidden your hands
Beneath the poplar leaves,
You have given them to the white waters.
Sea-child cold from waves,
Slight reed that sang so blithely in the wind,
White cloud the white sun kissed into the air;
Pan mourns for you.
White limbs, white song,
Pan mourns for you.
In the Via Sestina
O daughter of Isis,
Thou standest beside the wet highway
Of this decayed Rome,
A manifest harlot.
Straight and slim art thou
As a marble phallus;
Thy face is the face of Isis
As she is carven in basalt.
And my heart stops with awe
At the presence of the gods,
There beside thee on the stall of images
Is the head of Osiris
I drifted along the river
Until I moored my boat
By these crossed trunks.
Here the mist moves
Over fragile leaves and rushes,
Colourless waters and brown fading hills.
She has come from beneath the trees,
Moving within the mist,
A floating leaf.
O blue flower of the evening,
You have touched my face
With your leaves of silver.
Love me for I must depart.
The withered bonds are broken.
The waxed reeds and the double pipe
Clamour about me;
The hot wind swirls
Through the red pine trunks.
Io! the fauns and the satyrs.
The touch of their shagged curled fur
And blunt horns!
They have wine in heavy craters
Painted black and red;
Wine to splash on her white body.
She shrinks from the cold shower—
Let the Maenads break through the myrtles
And the boughs of the rohododaphnai.
Let them tear the quick deers' flesh.
Ah, the cruel, exquisite fingers!
I have brought you the brown clusters,
The ivy-boughs and pine-cones.
Your breasts are cold sea-ripples,
But they smell of the warm grasses.
Throw wide the chiton and the peplum,
Maidens of the Dew.
Beautiful are your bodies, O Maenads,
Beautiful the sudden folds,
The vanishing curves of the white linen
Hear the rich laughter of the forest,
The trampling of the panisks and the centaurs.
(After the Manuscript of Sappho now in Berlin)
Atthis, far from me and dear Mnasidika,
Dwells in Sardis;
Many times she was near us
So that we lived life well
Like the far-famed goddess
Whom above all things music delighted.
And now she is first among the Lydian women
As the mighty sun, the rose-fingered moon,
Beside the great stars.
And the light fades from the bitter sea
And in like manner from the rich-blossoming earth;
And the dew is shed upon the flowers,
Rose and soft meadow-sweet
And many-coloured melilote.
Many things told are remembered of sterile Atthis.
I yearn to behold thy delicate soul
To satiate my desire....
The Faun Sees Snow for the First Time
Send vengeance on these Oreads
White frozen flecks of mist and cloud
Over the brown trees and the tufted grass
Of the meadows, where the stream
Runs black through shining banks
Of bluish white.
Are the halls of heaven broken up
That you flake down upon me
Feather-strips of marble?
Dis and Styx!
When I stamp my hoof
The frozen-cloud-specks jam into the cleft
So that I reel upon two slippery points....
Fool, to stand here cursing
When I might be running!
At the British Museum
I turn the page and read:
"I dream of silent verses where the rhyme
Glides noiseless as an oar."
The heavy musty air, the black desks,
The bent heads and the rustling noises
In the great dome
The sun hangs in the cobalt-blue sky,
The boat drifts over the lake shallows,
The fishes skim like umber shades through the undulating weeds,
The oleanders drop their rosy petals on the lawns,
And the swallows dive and swirl and whistle
About the cleft battlements of Can Grande's castle....
Excerpted from Imagist Poetry by Bob Blaisdell. Copyright © 1999 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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