Today I have been working very hard, but one thing I’ve tried to do for a couple of hours is revise poetry. Because, as I may have mentioned, I’m putting together a poetry collection.
I’m so tired that I’m not going to write much of a blog post, but I am going to show you some of what I’ve been working on. These are three older poems that I’m in the process of revising. They’re all rather strange, and I’ve been seeing if I can make them work. All three are fairy tales of sorts (or snippets of fairy tales) that I’ve made up, so I’m going to give you Mother Goose telling her tales to the children:
And here are the poems.
The Mountains of Never
I went to the mountains of Never, which flourish their peaks for the moon,
white as the wrist of a lady, white as a fountain of may,
and the journey lasted forever, although it was over too soon,
for the mountains of Never are nearer, and farther, than away.
At the mountains I met a lady whose wrist was as white as the snows.
She sat with her white face lifted, blankened and blind, to the east.
I sat and watched her eyelids as a thousand moons arose,
and slowly the snows on her shoulders, flake by flake, increased.
Finally, where her face had been, there was only a hillock of white,
the white of the mountains of Never, that flourish their peaks for the moon,
so I turned to the hills and valleys that ranged beyond my sight
and sat with my white face lifted, still, and still, as stone.
Lucy walked into the forest; the moon hung like a scythe
over a harvested landscape, bared by autumn and death,
and above the clouds moved silently with the swiftness of a breath.
She carried a wicker basket filled with necessary things:
a flask of dew, a tortoiseshell comb, a pair of butterfly wings
found on a budding rosebush, mysteriously, last spring.
She walked into a clearing and uttered a low, sweet cry
(I will not tell you the words of it, an ancient lullaby),
and then she stood and waited, and frowned a bit to see.
Then suddenly the Elder began to sway and turn,
and all of that grove of branches similarly to churn,
as though a command had animated the artwork on an urn.
The brown trunks twisted and trembled, the roots were pulled from the ground,
thick with the mud of ages, and ivy wreaths unwound,
and the trees stepped from their places, with a snap and a creaking sound.
Now Lucy stands among them, and gives them a smile and a glance,
and scattering the last of their leaves they bow and they advance,
and the Elder invites Lucy to participate in the dance.
The moon hangs over the mountains, curved like a scimitar,
and the clouds have gathered together to cover every star,
and the place where the trees are dancing appears as a long bare scar.
Far off in the towns the men are dreaming in their degrees,
but above the forest the death’s-head of the moon sails on and sees
Lucy, laughing and prancing among the dancing trees.
Our Lady of the Nightmoths
When, one night, the nightmoths came,
powdered wings against her skin,
she lay down and closed her eyes,
slept and dreamed, and went with them.
Clutching tresses of her hair,
furred and squeaking like a mouse,
spread like parachutes in air,
they went any wind to north.
Nightmoths squealed behind her ears,
rubbed against her elbow joints.
She flew over valleys where
artist earth with icebergs paints.
She flew over mountains where
wolves elope with hungry ease,
where the caribou prepare
merger with the antlered trees.
Soon the nightmoths brought her north,
to the land were snows respire,
where each night the sky consumes
itself in multicolored fire.
There they settled her to wait
while her hair grew white like glass,
where the snow’s white termites bit
through her legs and diamond grass
sprouted from her cheeks and chin.
She had waited half a year
when the Nightmoth Lady came,
winging steady through the clear,
dropping powder from her membranes,
clouded in the nightmoth swarm.
Furred antennae felt the cold maid,
slender feelers closed and made her warm.
I know, I used to write some pretty strange stuff. But then, I still do.
Looking forward to a book of your poems…
Do you know J. Noel Paton’s illustrations to “Rime of the Ancient Mariner?” Somehow his “spirit who bideth by himself / In the land of mist and snow” pops into my head when I read the first poem, even though the spirit is quite male in the illustration. But he is a rather magnificent landscape feature and surrounded by peaks and much whiteness… although his face is bent downward.
Beautiful poems. I think the first one is my favorite, though I also really like the second stanza of “Lucy”. They all make me want to a) draw or b) wander into a fairy tale of my own. Thank you for these inspirations.
Your poems are lovely and your writing always inspires me. I have read that poems are concentrated prose and yours are stunning. I wondered if you have read the work of Winifred Welles – she wrote at the turn of the last century?
The first one reminds me a lot of George MacDonald – his prose, not his poetry! 🙂
I wondered about the word ‘participate’ in the second one. It just seemed more modern than the rest of the poem.