Micah‘s Friday love poem post got me thinking that it’s been some time since we’ve had a proper Thursday Love Poem feature here on The Dad Poet. If you’re a new visitor and don’t know what a Thursday Love Poem is, you can check out the original here. The feature is based on Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem called “Thursday,” which Continue reading “Thursday Love Poems by Mark Strand”
Since some of you have been asking for more poems by me, I thought that this weird little piece, published the same time as “Years Later” would provide a more lighthearted change of pace for our Thursday Love Poem feature. If you are not familiar with the Thursday Love Poem, it is based on Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Thursday.”
And if I loved you Wednesday,
Well, what is that to you?
I do not love you Thursday–
So much is true.
And why you come complaining
Is more than I can see.
I loved you Wednesday,–yes–but what
Is that to me?
So as we’ve said before, the Thursday Love poem is not a Hallmark romance verse, nor is it even a soulful and heart-wrenching Neruda piece. Heck, as the poem above illustrates, one might argue that it’s not about love at all, and if it is, well it’s definitely not something to read to your sweetheart by candlelight.
But today’s, while probably unhealthy in nature, is a darn site more loving than our flagship poem by Millay. It’s inspired by a long-past relationship that seemed to follow certain emotional cycles. Unlike other situations I’ve been in, this one seems to have two characters who truly do adore each other, despite the mess and the repeated mistakes. The speaker seems not to be upset to finally return to that old “rock” by the side of the stream. He knows the good days will be back.
There is a sequel to this poem, same characters, but different real-life partner. That one is a little less hopeful, darker, but still persistently positive in the end (not that the relationship followed suit). Perhaps it will make an appearance on the blog eventually. For whatever reason I was dealing with failed and broken relationships, long after the fact, by putting them into surreal metaphoric situations and working them out on paper. Here is just one more example.
There we are by the shore again—well, me
by the shore, you out there, bobbing in the waves
once more, eyes bugged out, lips ice-blue,
arms flailing. Desperate to keep your head
above the white caps, you’ve somehow managed
to grasp a fallen branch. “Are you okay?”
The classic stupid question, but what am I to say?
I never know. “I’m sorry,” you sputter-shout
as you spit a school of minnows from your teeth.
“I’m always drowning when we’re here together.”
Yet just last week we enjoyed a day here, dangling
foaming feet, skipping little stones, but now
is not the time to argue. I throw the rope,
always looped to my belt in anticipation
of times like this, but you miss it every toss.
All the while your enormous eyes convey a bevy
of emotions; fear of the current, rage at the waves
and sympathy for my own failings. My rope is too short.
In a frenzy now I fumble through my pockets, and toss
their contents to you—a marble, a feather, a rubber
chicken, hoping you’ll know how to use them. “Don’t worry
about me,” you gurgle. And I am touched; I know
how you hate it when your moods affect me. Too late
I dive and plunge into the icy flow, as you lose
your slippery grip and begin to drift
around the bend, waving kind assurances
as your head sinks beneath the surface. You’re always
thoughtful like that. Resigned, I crawl back
up the bank, and find my favorite rock. I check my watch—
it could be hours yet, before you’re washed ashore.
©2015 by David J. Bauman
Originally Published in the Tic Toc Anthology,
2014 by Kind of a Hurricane Press
We’re due for another Thursday Love poem feature, and so in the spirit of “Thursday,” a sort-of love poem by one of my poetic heroines, Edna St. Vincent Millay, I give you a piece from another New York mistress of words and wit, Dorothy Parker.
If you’re not familiar with the Thursday Love Poem feature, just go ahead and enjoy the poem below first, but then go back and click on that Thursday link in the first line of this post in order to get the original poem that inspired this irreverent tribute to love.
Like Vincent (as Millay liked to be called), Parker was both a poet and a social activist in the 1920’s New York literary scene. They were quite progressive ladies, though their poetry did not go the way of the Modernists, into ideas and abstractions, in the mid 30’s.
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.
Although she is a classy, gorgeous woman, I am not sure that she would be Poe’s type. Stevie Nicks might well be too strong and independent for the old-fashioned American Romantic, though I think he might have loved her in the recent season of American Horror Story Coven, where she played “herself in a universe where Stevie Nicks is an actual witch.”
But today Stevie and Eddy join forces to bring us this week’s Thursday Love Poem, a feature based on the quirky poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay called “Thursday.” In that flagship post I said that a Thursday Poem has “got to be a bit unconventional. No Hallmark cards of course. . . Here I want to share something different, off center, unexpected, something that resonates, though it doesn’t fit the traditional love poem mold.”
Poe’s “Annabel Lee” somehow manages to fit that definition, despite its traditional ballad-like form, and themes of love and death. How so? Well, depending on how one reads this poem it’s really downright creepy, and satisfyingly beautiful at the same time.
The photo we have of Poe here was taken in the year before his death which is the same year in which it is believed that he wrote “Annabel Lee.” Our friend, the poet, well he had a thing for both death and beauty. In fact, the two went hand in hand for him. It’s been speculated and debated time and again if poems like “Anabel Lee” were in fact based in reality. I can only say that the emotions of the poem seem real. Whether based on the tuberculous death of his young bride Virginia or not, the material for inspiration was certainly abundant in Poe’s life.
In his essay “Philosophy of Composition” in reference to his themes and methods in the writing of his poem “The Raven,” Poe asserted, “Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.” If you have the patience to read the essay for yourself, and if you are inclined to believe that he was being honest, and not merely making up the method after the fact, you might understand, or at least forgive him for, his insistence that the death of a beautiful woman was the “most poetic topic in the world.”
I asked myself — “Of all melancholy topics, what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy?” Death — was the obvious reply. “And when,” I said, “is this most melancholy of topics most poetical?” From what I have already explained at some length, the answer, here also, is obvious — “When it most closely allies itself to Beauty: the death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world — and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover.”
And why not the death of a beautiful man? Or the death of a child, or a parent, or a beautiful idea? A beautiful and well-loved dog, or planet? Well, setting aside discussions of misogyny and sexism for the moment, I don’t want to be too hard on him, knowing that he, like most of us, was at least in part a product of his own experience, and projecting that experience onto the larger world is not uncommon. In fact, perhaps this is how we find universal meaning in the particulars. In any case, Poe had lost women in his life, mothers and lovers, figuratively and literally, in courtship and in death. It’s an interesting topic to research (as usual there are great sources in those links).
I confess “Annabel Lee” is probably my favorite of the “Dead Bride” poems, with its archaic fairy tale-feel, young romantic love, celestial jealousies, tragedy and sense of the macabre. I remember in middle school wondering how literally we could take the lines at the end about lying down with his love in her sepulcher by the sea. Is it any wonder that Poe becomes popular with the emotional goth and emo kids?
I think that he would be pleased though that much of why I find the poem so beautiful springs from the poem’s form. There is an excellent analysis of Poe’s technique in this work on KHarger.com. The rhyme, meter, repetition all build the framework for this particular version of his favorite theme, and Harger explicates it exceedingly well. I encourage you to read it.
Poe, a champion of the “Art for art’s sake” creed, believed that poetry should be song-like in its aesthetics, and as such I suspect he would be tickled to hear how Stevie Nicks put his poem to music in her 2011 album In Your Dreams. He might be miffed about the dropping of one entire stanza, the poetic and specific term seraphim being dropped for the more general word “angels,” and the omission of the word chilling in the line “Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.” But overall I think he would be in the audience, beaming with pride and applauding if he could see and hear Stevie in concert.
In keeping with my tendencies to be a night owl, and since I have not yet gone to bed, and since I started this post well before the witching hour, it is still, in spirit at least, Thursday Poem territory.
Often in a post like this I copy the the full text below the video, but to keep the formatting the way Poe intended it, and to point you toward a wonderful resource, click here for the full text of “Annabel Lee” at The Poetry Foundation.
My dear friend and champion of peace, Ann Keeler Evans has been reminding me lately about the importance of being present, and in-the-moment. But after starting the new year with a bad cold, followed by a knock-out horrible bout of the flu virus, I found myself needing a little bit of hope. And she’s right, as I feel better, it’s easier to be present. But this week I was looking at previous spring posts, and the milder days associated with them.
Love, so often associated with spring, with bees and birds, this got me to thinking of our new-ish Thursday Love Poem feature, inspired by the flagship poem of lot, “Thursday,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay.
It’s rather an anti-love poem, a thumb-your-nose-at-love-poem, a men-have-treated-us-like-this-for-eons-and-now-it’s-my-turn-poem. But a poem need not be anti-love to qualify for the Thursday Love Poem slot. It only needs to make us think, or as I once said, squint our eyes, stand on our heads, and glance sideways at the whole circus of love. It’s got to be different, and in doing so, it’s got to stretch the mind as well as the heart.
I think these two poems by modern master E. E. Cummings succeed in doing just that. Hey, how about that–two for the price of one! This first one was recorded almost two years ago for my personal Record-a-Poem-a-Day-Challenge during 2012’s National Poetry Month in April. I was experimenting with making the video mimic what the poem was doing. Some loved it while others were decidedly unimpressed. Still, it’s about Spring, about Time and it’s seeming predictability, while pointing out that flowers, birds and bees do not use clocks.
The second one below it has never been on this blog before, though I had recorded it on my balcony in July of 2011 and had uploaded it to my YouTube channel where it too received mixed reviews. It was a request from a sexy teacher-friend and so I was attempting to be kinda mock-sexy. I think some people took my stance (Come on, shades? Don’t you recognize a poser making fun of posers when he poses?) a bit too seriously. I was trying to capture the poet’s brilliance whilst poking fun at the drama of it all, hoping it worked. Well, for some it did, but others. . . Ah, you can’t roll sixes every time.
I hope these two springy poems about love help to thaw your cold, winterized heart. Unless of course you live south of the equator, in which case I am far to envious to even talk to you right now.