Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Steampunk Poem from Viridian Girl

Blood and Brass: The Poem of Sylvia Weathersby





There was once was a woman named Sylvia Weathersby

Who lived to the ripe old age of 103.

She lived alone with no spouse or mate

Spending time reading books, building machines, or engaging in debate.



She was born in the year 1824

Just before the Steam Glass War

When Conductors built constructs immense and tall

Or squat and little, strong and small.



When Sylvia was young, her father and mother dear

Taught her the science of constructs and gears.

The child was delighted with metal and brass

And also learned daily of the War of Steam and Glass.



As she grew up, her mind expanded beyond expectations

Giving way to hopes and dreams as well as frustrations.

For Sylvia asked many questions, to know the world in whole,

Studying the designs of machines that were fueled with coal.



When she was 17, she designed her first construct named Tim

It was taller than her, metal sleek and slim.

Walking around her studio, making loud whistles and pops

Tim was continuously fueled, Sylvia making sure it would not stop.



When she turned 24 in 1848

Sylvia built construct Number 38.

Each one more dazzling than the one before

People wondered, "Would she ever get bored?"



Her constructs were used mainly for good

While Sylvia created as many as she could.

She supported the war, to drive the evil out-

Those who hated the Conductors, their minds full of doubt.



"Why must we live according to their rules and laws

When they can live without any flaws?"

These were the folks who were deemed evil and full of hate

Thinking that progress could most assuredly wait.









But people like Sylvia wanted more in life

Than buying tea and cakes and complaining of strife.

She dreamed of a day when man and machine would

Work together as they truly should.



So she walked and pondered and thought of a way

To make her dream come to life in some way.

Every day, she walked along the streets

Passing by florists and butchers with fresh meats.



She would walk from day till twilight

Watching the street boys light up the gas lights.

And, every night she would go home

Back to her own unfinished work, back to being alone.



No thought came into her mind that would bring peace

Ending the entire war, suffering to be released.

She wanted to do her part for the Great Cause

To prove to the enemy that the war was flawed.



One night, around a quarter to three

Sylvia lay in her mechanical bed, rocking with misery.

Her thoughts kept her up late into the night

But none of them would work, none of them had the bite!



For years and year the war raged on through the land

While more and more people began to take a stand

Against the brutal fights and the blood spilled on the ground

From dead bodies that fell without a sound.



The skies turned black with soot and ash

Caused from the cannons that BOOMed with flash.

Mechanical soldiers, of brass and steel

Fought the humans with bloodthirsty zeal.



Then, suddenly, in the year 1893

Around the time for afternoon tea

The war was over, much to everyone's surprise

Causing many a person to stupidly rub their eyes.



A truce was made between the warring sides

No one was the victor, no one secured the prize.

People could finally go home after so many years

To families who missed them, their eyes full of tears.





Sylvia watched loved reunite with their broken men

Knowing that they will never fight again.

There was much praise and fanfare

People screamed and laughed without any cares.



Within a year, everyone was back to their lives

Women with their husbands, men with their wives.

Conductors continued to build for the good of all

Remembering what happened before, thereby saving them all.



Yet the horrors of the war continued to remain

For blood still ran freshly along the plains.

No machine could remove the blood from the ground

And those who lost their lives were placed in a burning mound.



Fires consumed massive graves night and day

Sending putrid smoke along the way.

People would look up to the smog ridden skies

Wondering why there was a war to secure humanity's prize.



The Age of Steam still rolled on with dreams and progress

Giving people what they wanted, creating less stress

And soon the skies did turn back to what they knew

Fluffy clouds among a sea of clear blue.



Sylvia Weathersby lived till she was 103

Still working on gears and learning alchemy.

When she died many mourned her death

Thinking of the exact time when she took her last breath.



Many learned from her teachings and her published works

For they were worthwhile and not full of quirks.

Man and machine must support each other, it was said

This was an idea that would never become dead.



"The war taught me much, she would say

And I am glad it is better this way.

Conductors are here for all, no matter what you think

Assisting with growth of food or better water to drink."



And now my tale has ended, the lesson learned well

For I as a Conductor will not go to Hell.

I work my magick to help those in need

Still remembering the war, when many were in need.





All were affected during that time of hatred and fear

Engaged in a war that lasted many a year.

Remembering when the sky was black and grey

And how utterly long it stayed that way.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Another Poem from the Viridian Girl - 2006

Is it not possible
To forget the words said to the wind?
Only later caught and collected like a rare
Specimen of butterfly, pins ready
In case flight and escape are still
Thought of as options.
Remember when it was simple?
To speak a word and then watch it quickly
Disappear, only to be recycled
For the next round?
Fatigue settling in to a
Loss that can no longer be gained.

2006

Poem from Viridian Girl - 26 September 2006

If one sits still long enough
Mushrooms will begin to grow on their skin like edible tattoos.
Fungus of every colour, size, and smell
Sprout in response to a thought, dream untouched,
Wish gone awry. Eating your own strengthens the resolve,
Not waste, taken and absorbed back into the collective.
Cultivated and naked bodies
Create plentiful for the world, assist in darkened rooms,
Stored from the sun and savoured as thinly sliced
During parties of ill repute; women dressed
In dark coloured floor length dresses, eyes
Distorted by kohl, mysterious and secretive
While the men stand to the side, their purpose not yet given.
Samples of everyone lay about, the atmosphere like an opium den,
Gothic tragedy creating
Such sexual frustrations and non-limitations to those
Who truly deserve it.
Those who are beyond normal, those who savour
Their own blood as the finest wine, drawn
From their slender wrists with pearl handled knives
And glasses heated and waiting.
Their eyes, violet and piercing, their mouths painted with
Crushed blueberries, they are the ones who eat of the mushrooms
And drink sweet absinthe and blood, thoughts dancing
From one to another.
It was here that I was born, naked and pale
And ready to eat my own flesh
That was dusted and oiled with unguents made from faerie wings
And first kisses. Artists and writers, thinkers
Populate the rooms where the flesh mushrooms grow.
Hidden from the sun for it will kill them, vampiric souls
That occupy flesh caskets, making them lord and rulers
In a world that has yet to experience fear.

26 September 2006

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Birthday John Keats

Autumn
by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Birthday to Sylvia Plath and Dylan Thomas

Lady Lazarus
by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot——
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Dying
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.

It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

'A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart——
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash—
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there——

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Beware
Beware.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

Sylvia Plath, "Lady Lazarus" from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1960, 1965, 1971, 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath. Editorial matter copyright © 1981 by Ted Hughes. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.




Elm
by Sylvia Plath

For Ruth Fainlight

I know the bottom, she says. I know it with my great tap root:
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.

Is it the sea you hear in me,
Its dissatisfactions?
Or the voice of nothing, that was your madness?

Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it
Listen: these are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.

All night I shall gallop thus, impetuously,
Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf,
Echoing, echoing.

Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons?
This is rain now, this big hush.
And this is the fruit of it: tin-white, like arsenic.

I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.
Scorched to the root
My red filaments burn and stand, a hand of wires.

Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.
A wind of such violence
Will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.

The moon, also, is merciless: she would drag me
Cruelly, being barren.
Her radiance scathes me. Or perhaps I have caught her.

I let her go. I let her go
Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery.
How your bad dreams possess and endow me.

I am inhabited by a cry.
Nightly it flaps out
Looking, with its hooks, for something to love.

I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.

Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables?
Is it for such I agitate my heart?

I am incapable of more knowledge.
What is this, this face
So murderous in its strangle of branches?——

Its snaky acids kiss.
It petrifies the will. These are the isolate, slow faults
That kill, that kill, that kill.

Sylvia Plath, "Elm" from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1960, 1965, 1971, 1981 by the Estate of Sylvia Plath. Editorial matter copyright © 1981 by Ted Hughes. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.


Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" from The Poems of Dylan Thomas. Copyright 1939, 1946 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.


When All My Five and Country Senses See
by Dylan Thomas

When all my five and country senses see,
The fingers will forget green thumbs and mark
How, through the halfmoon's vegetable eye,
Husk of young stars and handfull zodiac,
Love in the frost is pared and wintered by,
The whispering ears will watch love drummed away
Down breeze and shell to a discordant beach,
And, lashed to syllables, the lynx tongue cry
That her fond wounds are mended bitterly.
My nostrils see her breath burn like a bush.

My one and noble heart has witnesses
In all love's countries, that will grope awake;
And when blind sleep drops on the spying senses,
The heart is sensual, though five eyes break.


Dylan Thomas, "When All My Five and Country Senses See" from The Poems of Dylan Thomas. Used by permission of David Higham Associates, London as agents for the Trustees of the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Poet of the Day - George Eliot

In a London Drawingroom
by George Eliot

The sky is cloudy, yellowed by the smoke.
For view there are the houses opposite
Cutting the sky with one long line of wall
Like solid fog: far as the eye can stretch
Monotony of surface & of form
Without a break to hang a guess upon.
No bird can make a shadow as it flies,
For all is shadow, as in ways o'erhung
By thickest canvass, where the golden rays
Are clothed in hemp. No figure lingering
Pauses to feed the hunger of the eye
Or rest a little on the lap of life.
All hurry on & look upon the ground,
Or glance unmarking at the passers by
The wheels are hurrying too, cabs, carriages
All closed, in multiplied identity.
The world seems one huge prison-house & court
Where men are punished at the slightest cost,
With lowest rate of colour, warmth & joy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Happy Birthday to Oscar Wilde!

The Ballad of Reading Gaol
by Oscar Wilde

I
He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
And murdered in her bed.

He walked amongst the Trial Men
In a suit of shabby gray;
A cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.

I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
"That fellow's got to swing."

Dear Christ! the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel.

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty space.

He does not sit with silent men
Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey.

He does not wake at dawn to see
Dread figures throng his room,
The shivering Chaplain robed in white,
The Sheriff stern with gloom,
And the Governor all in shiny black,
With the yellow face of Doom.

He does not rise in piteous haste
To put on convict-clothes,
While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, and notes
Each new and nerve-twitched pose,
Fingering a watch whose little ticks
Are like horrible hammer-blows.

He does not know that sickening thirst
That sands one's throat, before
The hangman with his gardener's gloves
Slips through the padded door,
And binds one with three leathern thongs,
That the throat may thirst no more.

He does not bend his head to hear
The Burial Office read,
Nor while the terror of his soul
Tells him he is not dead,
Cross his own coffin, as he moves
Into the hideous shed.

He does not stare upon the air
Through a little roof of glass:
He does not pray with lips of clay
For his agony to pass;
Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek
The kiss of Caiaphas.

II
Six weeks the guardsman walked the yard,
In the suit of shabby gray:
His cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay,
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its ravelled fleeces by.

He did not wring his hands, as do
Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
And drank the morning air.

He did not wring his hands nor weep,
Nor did he peek or pine,
But he drank the air as though it held
Some healthful anodyne;
With open mouth he drank the sun
As though it had been wine!

And I and all the souls in pain,
Who tramped the other ring,
Forgot if we ourselves had done
A great or little thing,
And watched with gaze of dull amaze
The man who had to swing.

For strange it was to see him pass
With a step so light and gay,
And strange it was to see him look
So wistfully at the day,
And strange it was to think that he
Had such a debt to pay.

For oak and elm have pleasant leaves
That in the spring-time shoot:
But grim to see is the gallows-tree,
With its alder-bitten root,
And, green or dry, a man must die
Before it bears its fruit!

The loftiest place is that seat of grace
For which all worldlings try:
But who would stand in hempen band
Upon a scaffold high,
And through a murderer's collar take
His last look at the sky?

It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
To dance upon the air!

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
His sightless soul may stray.

At last the dead man walked no more
Amongst the Trial Men,
And I knew that he was standing up
In the black dock's dreadful pen,
And that never would I see his face
In God's sweet world again.

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other's way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say;
For we did not meet in the holy night,
But in the shameful day.

A prison wall was round us both,
Two outcast men we were:
The world had thrust us from its heart,
And God from out His care:
And the iron gin that waits for Sin
Had caught us in its snare.

III
In Debtors' Yard the stones are hard,
And the dripping wall is high,
So it was there he took the air
Beneath the leaden sky,
And by each side a Warder walked,
For fear the man might die.

Or else he sat with those who watched
His anguish night and day;
Who watched him when he rose to weep,
And when he crouched to pray;
Who watched him lest himself should rob
Their scaffold of its prey.

The Governor was strong upon
The Regulations Act:
The Doctor said that Death was but
A scientific fact:
And twice a day the Chaplain called,
And left a little tract.

And twice a day he smoked his pipe,
And drank his quart of beer:
His soul was resolute, and held
No hiding-place for fear;
He often said that he was glad
The hangman's hands were near.

But why he said so strange a thing
No Warder dared to ask:
For he to whom a watcher's doom
Is given as his task,
Must set a lock upon his lips,
And make his face a mask.

Or else he might be moved, and try
To comfort or console:
And what should Human Pity do
Pent up in Murderer's Hole?
What word of grace in such a place
Could help a brother's soul?

With slouch and swing around the ring
We trod the Fools' Parade!
We did not care: we knew we were
The Devil's Own Brigade:
And shaven head and feet of lead
Make a merry masquerade.

We tore the tarry rope to shreds
With blunt and bleeding nails;
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors,
And cleaned the shining rails:
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank,
And clattered with the pails.

We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones,
We turned the dusty drill:
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns,
And sweated on the mill:
But in the heart of every man
Terror was lying still.

So still it lay that every day
Crawled like a weed-clogged wave:
And we forgot the bitter lot
That waits for fool and knave,
Till once, as we tramped in from work,
We passed an open grave.

With yawning mouth the yellow hole
Gaped for a living thing;
The very mud cried out for blood
To the thirsty asphalte ring:
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair
Some prisoner had to swing.

Right in we went, with soul intent
On Death and Dread and Doom:
The hangman, with his little bag,
Went shuffling through the gloom:
And each man trembled as he crept
Into his numbered tomb.

That night the empty corridors
Were full of forms of Fear,
And up and down the iron town
Stole feet we could not hear,
And through the bars that hide the stars
White faces seemed to peer.

He lay as one who lies and dreams
In a pleasant meadow-land,
The watchers watched him as he slept,
And could not understand
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep
With a hangman close at hand.

But there is no sleep when men must weep
Who never yet have wept:
So we—the fool, the fraud, the knave—
That endless vigil kept,
And through each brain on hands of pain
Another's terror crept.

Alas! it is a fearful thing
To feel another's guilt!
For, right within, the sword of Sin
Pierced to its poisoned hilt,
And as molten lead were the tears we shed
For the blood we had not spilt.

The Warders with their shoes of felt
Crept by each padlocked door,
And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe,
Gray figures on the floor,
And wondered why men knelt to pray
Who never prayed before.

All through the night we knelt and prayed,
Mad mourners of a corse!
The troubled plumes of midnight were
The plumes upon a hearse:
And bitter wine upon a sponge
Was the savour of Remorse.

The gray cock crew, the red cock crew,
But never came the day:
And crooked shapes of Terror crouched,
In the corners where we lay:
And each evil sprite that walks by night
Before us seemed to play.

They glided past, they glided fast,
Like travellers through a mist:
They mocked the moon in a rigadoon
Of delicate turn and twist,
And with formal pace and loathsome grace
The phantoms kept their tryst.

With mop and mow, we saw them go,
Slim shadows hand in hand:
About, about, in ghostly rout
They trod a saraband:
And damned grotesques made arabesques,
Like the wind upon the sand!

With the pirouettes of marionettes,
They tripped on pointed tread:
But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear,
As their grisly masque they led,
And loud they sang, and long they sang,
For they sang to wake the dead.

"Oho!" they cried, "the world is wide,
But fettered limbs go lame!
And once, or twice, to throw the dice
Is a gentlemanly game,
But he does not win who plays with Sin
In the Secret House of Shame."

No things of air these antics were,
That frolicked with such glee:
To men whose lives were held in gyves,
And whose feet might not go free,
Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living things,
Most terrible to see.

Around, around, they waltzed and wound;
Some wheeled in smirking pairs;
With the mincing step of a demirep
Some sidled up the stairs:
And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer,
Each helped us at our prayers.

The morning wind began to moan,
But still the night went on:
Through its giant loom the web of gloom
Crept till each thread was spun:
And, as we prayed, we grew afraid
Of the Justice of the Sun.

The moaning wind went wandering round
The weeping prison-wall:
Till like a wheel of turning steel
We felt the minutes crawl:
O moaning wind! what had we done
To have such a seneschal?

At last I saw the shadowed bars,
Like a lattice wrought in lead,
Move right across the whitewashed wall
That faced my three-plank bed,
And I knew that somewhere in the world
God's dreadful dawn was red.

At six o'clock we cleaned our cells,
At seven all was still,
But the sough and swing of a mighty wing
The prison seemed to fill,
For the Lord of Death with icy breath
Had entered in to kill.

He did not pass in purple pomp,
Nor ride a moon-white steed.
Three yards of cord and a sliding board
Are all the gallows' need:
So with rope of shame the Herald came
To do the secret deed.

We were as men who through a fen
Of filthy darkness grope:
We did not dare to breathe a prayer,
Or to give our anguish scope:
Something was dead in each of us,
And what was dead was Hope.

For Man's grim Justice goes its way
And will not swerve aside:
It slays the weak, it slays the strong,
It has a deadly stride:
With iron heel it slays the strong,
The monstrous parricide!

We waited for the stroke of eight:
Each tongue was thick with thirst:
For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate
That makes a man accursed,
And Fate will use a running noose
For the best man and the worst.

We had no other thing to do,
Save to wait for the sign to come:
So, like things of stone in a valley lone,
Quiet we sat and dumb:
But each man's heart beat thick and quick,
Like a madman on a drum!

With sudden shock the prison-clock
Smote on the shivering air,
And from all the gaol rose up a wail
Of impotent despair,
Like the sound the frightened marshes hear
From some leper in his lair.

And as one sees most fearful things
In the crystal of a dream,
We saw the greasy hempen rope
Hooked to the blackened beam,
And heard the prayer the hangman's snare
Strangled into a scream.

And all the woe that moved him so
That he gave that bitter cry,
And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who lives more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.

IV
There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain's heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far too wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.

Out into God's sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this man's face was white with fear,
And that man's face was gray,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

But there were those amongst us all
Who walked with downcast head,
And knew that, had each got his due,
They should have died instead:
He had but killed a thing that lived,
Whilst they had killed the dead.

For he who sins a second time
Wakes a dead soul to pain,
And draws it from its spotted shroud,
And makes it bleed again,
And makes it bleed great gouts of blood,
And makes it bleed in vain!

Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb
With crooked arrows starred,
Silently we went round and round
The slippery asphalte yard;
Silently we went round and round,
And no man spoke a word.

Silently we went round and round,
And through each hollow mind
The Memory of dreadful things
Rushed like a dreadful wind,
And Horror stalked before each man,
And Terror crept behind.

The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were spick and span,
And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at,
By the quicklime on their boots.

For where a grave had opened wide,
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
And the soft flesh by day,
It eats the flesh and bone by turns,
But it eats the heart alway.

For three long years they will not sow
Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
With unreproachful stare.

They think a murderer's heart would taint
Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true! God's kindly earth
Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but glow more red,
The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings His will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope's sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man's despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who tramp the yard
That God's Son died for all.

Yet though the hideous prison-wall
Still hems him round and round,
And a spirit may not walk by night
That is with fetters bound,
And a spirit may but weep that lies
In such unholy ground,

He is at peace—this wretched man—
At peace, or will be soon:
There is no thing to make him mad,
Nor does Terror walk at noon,
For the lampless Earth in which he lies
Has neither Sun nor Moon.

They hanged him as a beast is hanged:
They did not even toll
A requiem that might have brought
Rest to his startled soul,
But hurriedly they took him out,
And hid him in a hole.

They stripped him of his canvas clothes,
And gave him to the flies:
They mocked the swollen purple throat,
And the stark and staring eyes:
And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud
In which their convict lies.

The Chaplain would not kneel to pray
By his dishonoured grave:
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross
That Christ for sinners gave,
Because the man was one of those
Whom Christ came down to save.

Yet all is well; he has but passed
To Life's appointed bourne:
And alien tears will fill for him
Pity's long-broken urn,
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

V
I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in gaol
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.

But this I know, that every Law
That men have made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother's life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.

This too I know—and wise it were
If each could know the same—
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun:
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!

The vilest deeds like poison weeds
Bloom well in prison-air:
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair.

For they starve the little frightened child
Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool,
And gibe the old and gray,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

Each narrow cell in which we dwell
Is a foul and dark latrine,
And the fetid breath of living Death
Chokes up each grated screen,
And all, but Lust, is turned to dust
In Humanity's machine.

The brackish water that we drink
Creeps with a loathsome slime,
And the bitter bread they weigh in scales
Is full of chalk and lime,
And Sleep will not lie down, but walks
Wild-eyed, and cries to Time.

But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
Like asp with adder fight,
We have little care of prison fare,
For what chills and kills outright
Is that every stone one lifts by day
Becomes one's heart by night.

With midnight always in one's heart,
And twilight in one's cell,
We turn the crank, or tear the rope,
Each in his separate Hell,
And the silence is more awful far
Than the sound of a brazen bell.

And never a human voice comes near
To speak a gentle word:
And the eye that watches through the door
Is pitiless and hard:
And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
With soul and body marred.

And thus we rust Life's iron chain
Degraded and alone:
And some men curse, and some men weep,
And some men make no moan:
But God's eternal Laws are kind
And break the heart of stone.

And every human heart that breaks,
In prison-cell or yard,
Is as that broken box that gave
Its treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean leper's house
With the scent of costliest nard.

Ah! happy they whose hearts can break
And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his plan
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?

And he of the swollen purple throat,
And the stark and staring eyes,
Waits for the holy hands that took
The Thief to Paradise;
And a broken and a contrite heart
The Lord will not despise.

The man in red who reads the Law
Gave him three weeks of life,
Three little weeks in which to heal
His soul of his soul's strife,
And cleanse from every blot of blood
The hand that held the knife.

And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
The hand that held the steel:
For only blood can wipe out blood,
And only tears can heal:
And the crimson stain that was of Cain
Became Christ's snow-white seal.

VI
In Reading gaol by Reading town
There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
Eaten by teeth of flame,
In a burning winding-sheet he lies,
And his grave has got no name.

And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Viridian Books - A Creative Interview!

Viridian Books was recently interviewed by Molly Chambers from the website Creativity Portal. Please click on the link below to read more about the dark elf woman who loves to read and much more!

Viridian Books - Creativity Portal Interview

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dreams do come true

A couple of weeks ago, I came across an article on NPR's website concerning an indie bookstore in Decatur GA that was facing the possibility of closing down. I sent an e-mail and a donation to the store, letting them know that I would do my part to help them out, even though I had never set foot in the store.

Well, I went to their website just a minute ago and, to my surprise, found that Wordsmiths Books is still open! It feels good to know that people still care about things that matter in this world. People rushed to help this store rather than just turn their heads and go to a chain bookstore instead. Dreams really do come true.

Here is the letter from the owner of the store:

A Letter to our Customers

We have reached the end of our two week campaign to save the bookstore and the signs are now down from the windows. From August 4th through August 17th, we asked for your help. We asked for the chance to take this business and turn it forward, to get out from under the weight of immediate costs that were threatening to close our doors forever and begin the task of paying down debts that were accrued in our original location. And you responded. Our call for help hit the AJC , was broadcast on NPR, was rehashed and debated on countless blogs–locally, nationally and even in the U.K–commented on, emailed about and discussed in bookstores throughout the country (special thanks to those bookstores who reached out to help…you will not be forgotten). We received help from 18 states, Canada and a handful of people in the U.K. Several customers who heard the story on NPR and were visiting from other states (most recently California and Connecticut) wanted to come in to buy books to help support the cause. We hosted Jack Pendarvis, Sealions, Poetry Atlanta and Kodac Harrison thrilled us with his one-man show to bolster our weekend long fundraiser.
And thanks to you all, we are still here. We have raised enough capital to cover necessary operating expenses and give us a clear sight into the Fall. I cannot submit, in writing, the level of gratitude and heart-felt appreciation that I feel for all that has been done. For the kind words that have been written. For the immediacy with which this community responded. Contributions were steady, both online and in the store, but the true difference was made in the books that you bought, in the Friends of Wordsmiths memberships that were purchased, and in the efforts you made in-store to purchase goods that would help us now. On behalf of the staff of Wordsmiths Books, I would like to thank you all for making a concerted effort to help keep us around. We will not only ensure that your efforts are not wasted, but we will ensure that our work here offers as much as possible back to this community.
There is still much for us yet to do. We have operating expenses caught up and have made some traction into tomorrow, but we will still be working on paying down our debts for the foreseeable future. I would be remiss to state that all is well and that we are completely in the clear, though we are at least now in a position to address our concerns. I am still working to secure the long-term future of the bookstore and will be open to investment of any level up to that of a partnership in the business. I would like to have investment in the business secured sometime in the coming 90 days, so if you are interested, please email me or call the store to discuss the prospect.
There are also still a number of ways, beyond investment, that you can help support Wordsmiths Books and offer your contribution to ensuring that we are here into the distant future. Our Friends of Wordsmiths program is still the easiest way to support the store, and an instant way to begin to see a return of your support. We also have a number of products in-store that bear that Wordsmiths logo and are not only a financial means to support the store but offer significant advertising outside of the business. You can attend our in-store events and purchase books or drop whatever contribution you feel necessary in our Events Box. Or if you wish to rent our event space for meetings or group gatherings, we can accommodate that as well. With time, we hope to expand what we offer, increase the level of product that we carry, and wish to include the all-important café I have been hoping for from the outset.
Though the signs are down from the window, our road is yet long, but I am renewed by a sense of hope that what we do here does in fact matter to you. And with that, I want nothing more than to continue to build the bookstore you desire. To create the space and atmosphere that welcomes you in and offers you all that you wish to see and experience. I will always be available to those who wish to discuss their opinions and who would like to offer their contribution in way of perspective or thought on how we can make Wordsmiths Books a better place.
For those of you who have offered your help over the past two-weeks, I am busy writing thank you cards and enclosing a fair return on your contribution. Everyone who contributed will see a return in some form. Given that I wish to be around for many years to come, I hope that you find your efforts were well worth it.
Thank you.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Viridian Books - Book Review

When Worlds Collide – The Eyre Affair

No matter how many times I read Jane Eyre, the Gothic novel still enthralls me, giving me goose bumps that come with reading such a work. The mad and mysterious wife locked in the attic, the dashing yet brooding Edward Rochester, the plain yet resilient Jane Eyre; it is these characters that will stand the test of time, forever entertaining readers with their narratives and personal histories. However, how would we, the readers, react if someone tried to re-write the novel, removing characters that were near and dear to us, thereby changing the entire story and creating something entirely different? How would we feel? I’ll go a bit further; how would we feel if we discovered that the characters were, quite literally, no longer in the book? That someone actually jumped into the book with the assistance of a portal, stole a character or two, and then slipped out as if nothing had happened? What then? Impossible? Perhaps. Improbable? Maybe not, at least in the world of literary detective Thursday Next, the heroine of Jasper Fforde’s incredible and hilarious first novel, The Eyre Affair.
Set in an alternative England during the 1980s where the Crimean War is still being fought, there are rising numbers of fights between gangs who support different periods of art, hot debates that take on a religious fervor as to who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays are all the rage, and an overflow of religions where even wombats are sacred are given to us with a style and grace that is unique, frightening, and full of wonder. This is also the time of fervor over all things literary, where black markets are set up in order to sell forgeries of famous books that could pass off as the real thing except for a change of character here or a completely different ending in another. The country is, in a 1984 way, ruled with an iron fist known as the Goliath Corporation that infiltrates every aspect of every British person’s life and dares for anyone to rebel against them. It is this world that is the set stage for a most dangerous literary scheme and an even more dangerous man to execute the deed. Acheron Hades, a man beyond all concepts of evil, steals a device that will allow himself to enter a book and become part of the narrative. After successfully removing and murdering a minor but still important character in Charles Dickens’ novel Martin Chuzzlewit, Hades sets his sights on even bigger game: Jane Eyre herself. Thursday, with the help of Edward Rochester from the novel, stop and defeat the madman before the classic is lost to readers forever.
Fforde, through this book and others that follow in this series, has given readers a new reason to love reading, revealing what they already know through a kaleidoscope made of chaos and order that blend quite well. His style of writing is filled with literary innuendoes that will tickle even most purist of readers of classic literature; the scene in which Thursday’s uncle Mycroft shows off his bookworms and their usage while they devour pages from a book is one such example. However, even those who are not prone to read classic works will still enjoy the overall Monty-Python-with-books-involved humour that never becomes boring or over the top and melodramatic. The literary world is no longer confined to just ink and paper; their world has become our own.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Necessary - A Flash Story

I want to make it absolutely clear that I am real. There are those of you out there, you with your pretty smiles and false teeth that think me to be otherwise. I just want to be sure that you do realize that you are wrong. The last time I checked, the ears have grown somewhat and my senses are more heightened than before. The colours, however, hurt me more now than ever before; I wonder if that is all part of the plan. Perhaps, but then why should I even care anymore?

When I first discovered my changes, I wanted to cry. My tears would not be of sadness but rather of relief that the truth was finally coming to a big black head. Pimple psychology; I love it! It's so . . . chic.

Now that the glimmer has worn off and I am left with only my truth staring at me right in the face, I no longer smile. My blank stares are a window into a world that I hope you will never want or try to enter.

Day 21 or something close to it: it is over. It hurts. God, please . . . help me. Am I no longer in my Creator's window of caring? It hurts. My blood, as I have found out with the help of a knife, is no longer red but a weird shade of purple. I expected as much.

I am no longer what you think of as a myth or silly legend. I am real, staring at you in the face. Deny me again and let's just see what will happen.

I am a part of something greater, something that will stand tall with pride long after you humans have whithered away and died. I will play beautiful music with your sensitive bones, laughing with a mouth that is beyond normal comprehension.

Welcome to the new order. Welcome to the old world.


Don't worry; your death is necessary for not only myself but others who have awakened to their new life. Hush now and let it begin.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Facing My Fear

So.


I just finished reading another gem of a book by romance author Lydia Joyce, desperately wanting to buy the next one in the series today.


Yes, I did say romance novel - the one genre I swore I would never read. And yet, Ms. Joyce is a goddess when it comes to Gothic romances; each book is layered with not only a good love story but historical facts (most of the books are set during the Victorian age - mid 1800s) and intrigue.

I finished Whispers in the Night in a day and several hours then, with a look of satisfaction on my face, played my favourite game: What Will Kimberly Read Now? As most of you have seen in my pictures on my profile, my library is pretty extensive for someone who lives in a one bedroom apartment but hey, you do what you gotta do!

After picking up and putting down several titles, I finally decided on one and when I realized what I had done, I almost panicked.

There is one book that I have not been able to finish two times in a row in my life. I reach the same page, the same scene, and I calmly put down the book and pick up a cozy mystery or a D & D fantasy book. However, this book was written by one of my favourite authors and for me, the Goth Librarian, to say that I have not read it yet is blasphemy.

The book? Glad you asked.

Middlemarch by George Elliot.



I can hear you groaning out there . . .


I love all things from the 60s - the 1860s and Middlemarch is no exception. I have watched the BBC production of the book (fell in love with it), I have purchased several copies of the book for my own amusement, and so on. However, as most of you know, Middlemarch is no skip in the park. It is, to be exact, an 811 page skip in the park (the number of pages in my latest copy).

So, why try to read it?

Simple. Because I love literature.

Many of you would run screaming at the sight of this mammoth book, and years ago I almost did the same thing (twice), but today is different. I am older and my tastes have changed. I tried to read it before because I loved literature and because I wanted to look sophisticated and cool. Now, I want to read it because I love literature and . . . that's all.

So, tonight marks the beginning of my third attempt to read the book that I swore I would never try to read again.

Question: have any of you ever read Middlemarch? Are any of you interested in reading Middlemarch? I'll write a review for this book so let me know if you are interested in reading it!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 11, 2008

(nothing)

She wanted to be there for him


in the rain, the train slowly coming


to a ferocious halt.


A sound unlike any other


escaped her throat when she saw his face-


all past black gone, replaced by something holy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Indigo: A Poem in Three Parts

I

An indigo painted dream lies here

as a beacon for all who seek to dream.

Ripples cascading forever and into the past

long for those who are full; a denied

absence of colour, prolonged interrogations

and still, a silent curse

blessed on the head of one who is asleep.

The words here are pure,

resistant to fire and calming to hands cool

and fragrant of dying roses.

Words are linked to a forgiving blessing

given by a priest or witch doctor

who rattles the bones of dead goddesses.

Supple and limber are the dreams

awakened by the non blue non black painting,

giving those who have lost hope a chance to blink.

My eyes, still crying from when I was born

are stained the same colour as the painting-

my scarlet letter for a new generation.



II

Guilt: a form of controlling others.

Nonsense to those who fear

an otherwise bastard of a tale.

Fires, small and large, smell sweetly

of the herbs thrown in, giving off such heady scents

that we can not help ourselves but rather sing.

From the indigo painting to the fire

that was started by fish who knew better.

Atrocious, I think (such a humble writer am I),

to prefer the light to the dark,

of saints and shadows, of sunflowers and water lillies,

here I stand before you, on trial for my creation

of what sets people free. Guilt, they tell me,

comes not from me but rather what lies behind me-

the painting of indigo, of colour and of none.

Yet they see my eyes ringed with sweat,

they see my eyes of indigo,

they see my painting of indigo.

My guilt becomes my skin.



III

She is what you make of her.

I can not take credit for her birth

but how I wish I could; she comes from the painting,

the central force of the dreaming and the lost.

To touch her is to forever sleep, snuggled

deep within the folds of a womb of black.

She is not coarse; soft hands guide me and only me

towards the painting that I both love and fear.

The silence surrounds us, swallows the writer whole

and later, much later, is awakened by the

sounds of the sea; at last, the writer

is in the painting, a captive willing

to desert all she knew of before.

This is her pardon for the guilt

(I am made clear again)

made recognizable by the trial that never happened.

And this, you may ask me,

what of this? What is next?

What is before and what has occurred?

I smile and say "Nothing."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Xenophobia - A Flash Story

I ran into the breakroom to prepare my first cup of tea for the day before anyone else got there. As I watched the steaming hot liquid fall into my Harry Potter mug, turning instantly into fragrant lemon ginseng green tea, I noticed that a woman had walked into the room as well with her mugs. We exchanged smiles to each other then she said in a soft yet steel tone, "Isn't it a shame that we can no longer trust the Chinese?" My face fell flat, devoid of all emotion, as I stared at her, wondering why she would bring this question up to a person she barely knew?

"I just don't trust their products anymore, not since the lead in the toys thing. If I had kids, which I don't, I would never send them to China to watch the Olympics, you know? I think their not caring about anyone or anything is all about money." I stood rooted to the spot as I listened to a woman speak about a culture she had probably never been exposed to aside from her regular listening of NPR's newscast. She wore a smug expression on her face as she continued talking while all I could think of was my tea that was now probably cold.





(and yes, this did happen to me at work yesterday. Makes you wonder . . .)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What If - A Flash Story

Tabitha stared at the pictures in her photo album and wished for the millionth time that she could go back and be around those people whose faces showed only happiness and peace. She sighed as she closed the book, wondering (again) if what she did was the right thing to do; granted, she did put so many people in danger but it was for the greater good. Yes. Of course it was. Outside, it had begun to rain and Tabitha was glad to be inside for once. She pulled the blanket tighter around her body and positioned herself on the couch so that she look outside her window. So much for so many, she thought again, watching the rain fall from the sky, landing on the charred remains of her "decision". I had to do it, she thought as tears began to fall down her face. So much for so many.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Perhaps - A Flash Story

Perhaps Charles knew better than to open his bookstore, the old ladies who met every day in the tea shop would say in their sweet arsenic voices. Perhaps he did and yet he was still going to open the store anyway. What was he trying to prove?

The entire town knew of his high level of intelligence, his sharp wit and silver tongue as well as his oh-so-charming personality; was the bookstore, then, a monument to his greatness? Was it his way of snubbing the rest of the town, declaring that he and only he had the right, the bloody gall, to open such a place?

Perhaps.

But then again, perhaps he opened his small and tidy bookstore simply because, at the strapping age of 38, he simply loved to read.

Perhaps.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Flowers in the Attic

I am drained.


I just finished reading Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews and I feel as though my own soul has been ripped out of my body.


Damn!

Normally, I love strange and unusual books because, well, I am a strange and unusual bookseller (commercial pulg, buy from Viridian Books!!) but this story left me feeling dirty, angry, disgusted . . and grateful for having read such a novel. I bought my copy from the recent library sale for only pennies and yet this story will stay with me for months to come. In fact, I know I will be buying the next several books as soon as I have enough books to trade.

Let me wrap up the story for you, for those who have never heard of the novel: a woman who places her four children in the attic of her parents' mansion to live for YEARS, older brother and sister who discover that they are in love with each other, powdered doughnuts with sprinkled arsenic, a grandmother who condemns all things related to exposing the naked body to the opposite sex, an inheritence gained only if the heir claims to have no children whatsoever (and she does have children from her first marriage . . to her step uncle!) and so on and so on.

I think I need to get drunk tonight, but in some strange way, I don't think I will; I want to keep the Gothic images in my mind for as long as possible.

Strange and Unusual indeed.


Thanks for listening.

Tea Shop - A Story

When I first met Paula, I told her that she smelled like bergamot. Every time she moved her arms, every time her hair was caught in a light breeze, my senses would go into overdrive and all I could think of was a kettle of Earl Grey tea. She said she smelled that way because she spent most of her childhood in her uncle’s tea shop, wandering among the tall glass jars filled to the brim with exotic smells and delicacies from around the world. A pinch of oolong here, a dabble of British Breakfast there, some lavender thrown in for good measure, and voila!, she would say, raising her hands over her head as if she was a magician. She lived for the scents that awakened the senses, for it was in those scents that brought us to a moment of undiluted happiness. One day I wanted to test that thought, so the two of us walked from my home to her uncle’s tea shop, the small ocean blue painted store at the end of the street with wind chimes at the door. When she opened the door, I closed my eyes without even thinking. It was here, all of it, ready and waiting for me and only me. Her uncle, a grizzled old man who somehow forgot that the 60s had ended a long time ago, came from around the desk and hugged his niece with happiness and pride. I stood back, giving them their space but also taking in the scents as best as I could. Her uncle then pulled away from her and introduced himself to me with a smile and a firm handshake.
“I give people happiness,” he said with a wink. “Too often, people come in here dull and grey. I let them see what they are missing.” With that, he walked back behind the counter to a small stove with a kettle that had just begun to whistle. From this kettle he filled three already prepared cups that stood to the side then waved at us to join him. When we reached him, he handed each of us a cup; Paula’s was the colour of blood while mine was a deep violet. He raised his bright white cup in a mute toast but smiled as we took a sip from our own cups. Once the hot liquid touched my tongue, my skin began to smell of jasmine.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Book Review - Yarrow by Charles de Lint

Portal to the Otherworld

OK, I will admit it: I am sci-fi and fantasy geek. I feel better now.
Within the masses of the sci-fi and fantasy literary genre, there is one author who stands out as the master of the urban fantasy tale and that is Charles De Lint. His stories give us a clear insight into the world we know of and the world that lies just beyond the veil. He is most known for his stories about the fictional city of Newford and the inhabitants of that city who stumble, quite literally, into the Otherworld, a realm populated by elves, dragons, twin girls that change into ravens, and the like. His book, Yarrow, is no exception but instead the epitome of his extraordinary talent of not only as a writer but a “record keeper” of the Otherworld.
“Old ghosts lived behind Cat Midhir’s eyes, memories that had no home until they came to haunt her.” So begins the story of writer Caitlin Midhir, a woman who is a best selling fantasy novelist but also a recluse in her city. She has very few friends, no lovers, but a wealth of information that leads her to write novel after novel of extraordinary creatures and beings, giving a source of escape and joy to her readers.
However, there is a catch: these stories do not come from her imagination but rather from the Otherworld itself; while asleep, Cat “travels” to the Otherworld to spend time with her strange friends and then writes down the stories and legends given to her by a poet-bard named Kothlen. All is going well until one night when a dark and evil presence begins to steal her dreams, thereby cutting her off from the only world she ever knew. For months, she can not write a single world nor is she able to visit her special place.
The thief, a more-than-human being named Lysistratus, enters the city to steal people’s dreams as well as their souls, giving him the essence he desires to continue existing. He, through his own feeding and later carelessness, brings several characters from both the real world and the Otherworld to, unknowingly, fight the creature to get their dreaming back. But at the center of it all is Cat who must overcome her own insecurities and fears to recognize her own strength as both a writer and a goddess of the Otherworld named Mynfel who share the same secret name, Yarrow, which means “Heal-All”.
I have been a fan of Mr. de Lint’s work with each book brining me closer and closer to the Otherworld with his lyrical and descriptive stories and Yarrow proves to be no different. Although I read the 255 page novel in three hours, it felt as though I, too, traveled with Cat and her friends to assist in getting my own dreams back.
We live in a world of metal with everything around us promising something new, something faster, something better for our lives. Mr. de Lint, however, tells us of something that is even greater: a chance to dream and a chance to believe. Yarrow is full of hope and conquering one’s own limitations, to see what lies beyond and to understand that it is real no matter what others might say. We are given a choice in his works: do we continue with our daily lives that possibly lack colour and imagination, or do we take a chance to peer behind the veil and begin our exploration into a new and strange world?
I have made my decision. Have you?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

10 June 2008

It is raining now. I can feel the drops
Sliding across my window, giving me the sign
That Nature is hard at work.
I can time the drops, here and there, slow, fast,
Unyielding in their relentless drive
To seek those who still believe.
I want to hide under blankets and just watch
But they have more of a role for me than that.
They want me nearer, closer, touching the velvet
To parade across my forehead, anointing me
To remind me of my times before.
God must surely be happy, I think,
To allow such a simple act to manifest.
Manifest Destiny, I once heard,
Cried over rooftops and subways, yelled by people
Who wanted a better life, one with the raindrops.
I want to share it with good friends, people who are
Not afraid anymore, and yes, they do exist.
I no longer want to be afraid of what will naturally
Happen to me, for I have witnessed my own demise.
Give me a chance to redeem myself and I shall not disobey you.
No slander can ever come from my mouth, only raindrops
Silently falling to the ground, acid tearing away
At what was once pure and tame, not laced with licorice
And fish scales collected by the dead.
This time will be my time, to slide along my own future with the rain,
To cleanse the Earth and its inhabitants.
A word shall come from me and I will make it better
For us all, denying the very essence of what it means, what it means
To be of the rain, in the rain, and without the rain.
Give me the strength to finally see.

10 June 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Alchemy Lab Quiz

So.

I just took this quiz and I must say, I was pretty pleased with the results.

Alchemy Lab Quiz


Here was my result:

You are emerging from the dark night of the Soul and entering into the brilliant light of pure Spirit.

The depths of darkness and depression that have marked your life in the recent past will now be transformed into the penetrating light of divine consciousness. In chemical terms, the next step in alchemy is Fermentation, a natural process consisting of two parts. First comes Putrefaction, in which the matter is allowed to breakdown and decompose. The alchemists often added manure to help get the process going. The sign that this preliminary process is nearing its end is a milky white fluid that accumulates on the blackened, rotting material. The dead material seems to come to life again with an influx of digesting bacteria, as Fermentation begins. This new life force changes the fundamental nature of the material in what the alchemists saw as a process of spiritization. Out of the utter blackness of Putrefaction comes the yellow ferment, which appears like a golden wax flowing out of the foul matter. Its arrival is announced by the formation of an iridescent, oily film the alchemists named the “Peacock’s Tail.”

Psychological Fermentation is the introduction of new life into the purified presence that you developed during Conjunction. This child of the Conjunction, however, is really just a gross melding of opposites of the personality that may still be contaminated with traces of ego, so it is necessary to "sacrifice" it to bring about its resurrection on a new level of being. During psychological death or Putrefaction, the child of the Conjunction, which is the strongest presence you can create within your earthbound personality, is exposed to the decadent humidity of your deepest and most clinging psychic components, the psychological manure in which most of us wallow.

This is the dark night of the soul, in which you realize how futile it can be to try to overcome the personal, social, genetic, and even astrological limitations to change. The enthusiasm of the Conjunction turns into a black mood, and there is an extinction of interest in life. At this point, you have to stubbornly persist to achieve enlightenment or relax into the dull slumber of mere physical existence. Like the white light of the Other Side seen by near-death experiencers, we finally leave the darkness and enter the bright light of resurrection as consciousness is restored on a higher level.

Fermentation then begins with the inspiration of spiritual power from Above that reanimates, energizes, and enlightens the blackened soul. It can be achieved through various activities that include intense prayer, desire for mystical union, breakdown of the personality, transpersonal therapy, psychedelic drugs, and deep meditation. In simplest terms, Fermentation is a living, loving inspiration from something totally beyond us, something existing wholly Above in the realm of pure mind. "Separate the Earth from Fire, the Subtle from the Gross" the Emerald Tablet instructs us at this stage.

Like the iridescent "Peacock's Tail" of its chemical counterpart, successful psychological Fermentation is indicated by colorful visions that symbolize the activation of the True Imagination ¾ what the alchemists called their "Secret Fire." Personal awareness and creative abilities skyrocket in this state of consciousness, and Fermentation is the quality we envy in great artists, prophets, and spiritual leaders. Once fermented, a person becomes suddenly alive and irrepressibly hopeful because their attention is diverted from this world to something much greater. This is a time to tune into the full intensity of your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, since they are offering you a true escape from the mundane world in which you feel yourself trapped. You are undergoing a period of true inspiration during which you should try to keep as grounded as possible. Keep a journal of your thoughts and dreams no matter how strange or irrelevant they may seem, because they may be communicating great insights.

Bodily changes begun during Conjunction reach an entirely new level during Fermentation. The Second Puberty of Conjunction causes the growth of a Second Body, a body of light experienced at first only in the True Imagination. The level of inspiration may become so intense that it is experienced as a palpable, warm light circulating in the body. This living inspiration can even be consciously directed as a healing energy to various parts of the body or to others. As Fermentation progresses, people report feelings of extraordinary grace and "flow" as the physical body raises toward perfection, toward an ideal or archetypal image that is slowly taking on reality within.

Poem of the Day from The Poetry Foundation

Narcolepsy
by Ann Lauterbach

Comes sarcastic November in mummy garb, hauling,
same old same old what laid bare
what totaled. Sees thru the estimated costs, stench
collisions, inanimate dregs, remembers
the bruised figures, their
numerology as stars. Up up, down down
is how she counts as the hunters begin to hunt.

This is the plot of erasure, this the lavender bath.
Truth be known, the dark won by a landslide.

Yet friends in far January
await news of the front, cycling up the snow-clad hills.
They are to be exhumed from the grail of the keeper,
he who heralds what’s here. To them, send dreams
that pop open when breathed on
and ask them to complete this sentence:
If God is in the details, then ...

But in the end there was only a chair covered in velvet
and the sibling, dark as a forest, turned into words.
There were the stamps with monsters
and the stamps with flowers,
there was a dumpster of old paint.
Even the egalitarian whimsy of the gold rush
is in partial view: harbor’s sleek hulls,
willow disintegrating in drapery and nonce.
What others did
taking us to task in the field, into archival maps
along a bank. What is it they wanted?
Among strangers, beyond the stamina of pictures
—the dancer on stage, his ruined feet,

as they would flail crops
when the spring comes, and flood, and tassels
rise, as my head—


Across the ballast’s drab plaster
a colder moment assumes shape.
And Thee, found inside eternity’s crawl space,
midget doctrine of reckless variety,
homing pigeon of whatever returns,
what is your method now and
how do you know when it is finished?
When it detaches, when it comes to life at the edge of time.


Ann Lauterbach, “Narcolepsy” from If in Time: Selected Poems 1975-2000. Copyright © 2001 by Ann Lauterbach. Reprinted with the permission of Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. For online information about other Penguin Group (USA) books and authors, see www.penguin.com.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bittersweet Sylvanus - a poem

Bittersweet Sylvanus

There is a river flowing beside my footprints
Made of the tears of those who never truly got over their faults.
A bittersweet river made for a bittersweet time
To reflect what others feel without a waste of words.
From time to time, I help in the construction,
Forcing the thorns up my throat and out my mouth. A season
Of dying leaves prepared to occupy the river
Are of the utmost importance; the leaves are draped in spiders’
Dreams and rotting breath.
A cyclical force churns the river,
Giving it animation where Death was once King.
Slivers of rock adorn the river, adding substance
To another year, perhaps.
Dryads dance to an inner song, teasing me of my flesh prison;
It is never my fault. They think the river
Is a chance of a new life, a chance beyond their wooden prisons.
So, we are prisoners, small and immense, trapped but in favour
With one another, giving homage to the waters
Flowing freely, wishing us its own success. Cool breezes
Flow backward, distant and careless, succeeding in areas
When there were none to give or win. Despite all of this,
Despite my own words that I swore I would never use, this river gives me
A strange hope through my own fingers, typing furiously away
To make sure that others will understand me. My fingers, filled to the brim
With tears, bittersweet, remember, are fast as they pour forth
My own confession. The Rapture comes slowly, ticking away
As I sit and now watch this saline river sluggishly churns by me, offering no
Splashes on my feet. No baptism for me for I no longer need it.
I was already baptized, I tell the river, making clear that it understands me.
I was already baptized.
This, then, is a new experience.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bibliophile Dementia

So.

I just finished reading This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald - magnificent! If you have not read this book, what the hell is wrong with you?

OK, enough of that. We Bibliophiles tend to get a little . . . hot under the collar when we've just finished reading a book that we think the WORLD should read.
So, I am about to read a new book: The Floating Book by Michelle Lovric. It looks good and so why not?

However, I feel as though something is missing right now. True, I am in my somewhat quiet apartment (my cats love to meow at me when I am TRYING to be quiet) and I have a new book to read, but still, I feel as though something is lacking, something that needs to be here, right here, right now.


What is it?


I think I know and yet I really don't want to express my thoughts so plainly; it tends to cheapen them.

Earlier, I spent some time with a dear friend of mine and, as always, I learned something new about him and myself as well.
So, why is it that I want to cry right now, not out of sadness but out of happiness? Have I truly gone over the edge?

What am I feeling right now? Wish I knew.

Does anybody out there know what is going through my mind, because if so, can you PLEASE tell me?

No, I don't think I'm crazy (more so than usual). No, I am not sinking into a depression (I feel a sort of happy, remember?)

So, why do I want to cry right now?


I am missing . . .

No more to be said, dear readers. If you know me, you know how I would have ended that incomplete phrase. And to tell you the truth, you would be right.

Thanks for reading, as always.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

La Vie Nouvelle

So.


Yesterday, I attended a celebration of the human spirit. My mother is the founder of the Carin' and Sharin' group, a support group for African American women who have been diagnosed or are survivors of breast cancer. This group has been around for 19 years and it refuses to die down.

Every May, the group holds a May Celebration, honouring those who are still alive and those who have passed on. Every year I attend not only as my mother's daughter but as a supporter of finding a cure.


Yet this year, it was different for me. Normally, I love watching the older women take their place at the microphone and state their name and how long they have been a survivor. This year, however, I felt something inside of me flutter even more so than normal. I stared at their wrinkled yet proud faces, wondering about their lives; were they a part of the Civil Rights Movement, were they movers and shakers when they were younger, did they have any passions in their lives that they still carried or squashed due to peers, families, or their own thoughts?

There is one woman whose name I forget who is heavyset and uses a walker to walk. However, once she reached the microphone, her voice literally blows you away. She sings with such passion that I found myself with tears in my eyes and my heart lifted with the hope that HOPE is just around the corner.

Let me be honest: I love my mother. I respect her. She is one of the few people in my life who has been a constant inspiration to me with reagrds to my writing and my love of books and knowledge. Without her guidance, my life would have been radically different.

I always feel a sense of bittersweet honesty during the May Celebration: joy for those who are survivors and who are still alive, and sadness for those who have sucumbed to cancer.

My thoughts last night turned to my friends: how many of them abuse their bodies, how many of them have self esteem issues, how many of them refuse to truly live because of a past wrong or event. We can no longer continue our grip on the past. It is the present and the future we must look forward to.

I also thought about my own life last night: I now have a literary agent for my children's book The Bookstore Bus and I am excited. Finally, one of my dreams is coming to fruition because I stopped worrying about what others thought of me, or my own self esteem issues. I stopped all of that crap because that is exactly what it is: CRAP.

Just like those women last night, I want to live with a clear mind, breath in my body, and concrete confidence of who I am and what makes me me.

Do you?


Thanks for listening.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Poem from the Goth Librarian

He looked at me with eyes
Stolen from a creature not yet named by Man.
Such an ocular moment
Would last only seconds
And yet my body stayed rooted
To the spot, a slave and servant to what lay
Beneath the flesh, of a tease that I refused
To acknowledge.
He was here, among the glassy eyes,
Searching for someone, thing,
A possible reason for his own existence.
Never has the desire to fall on my knees
Ever been stronger – shall he think me weak
And unacceptable of this gift?
Black, like ravens, are warmer to the touches
Under my fingers; I dare not lick the
Sheen from them. His sweat shall poison me.
Within his arms are oceans, of waters
Created and destroyed everyday,
Calling me like a vengeful Siren;
No sailor am I.
This, then, is the time to surrender all
And dream, lest I forget how.

19 May 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Poetess - A Story from the Goth Librarian

Poetess




We used to go for walks on the forest trails when we were younger, when Time was all that we had. She would lead and I would follow close behind, my eyes focused on the back of her head and slender neck. We were two college students, ready to tackle the world and everyone that was stupid enough to stand in our way. We were important, thinking ourselves to be goddesses, never to be soiled by mortal hands.
After our last class on Wednesdays ended at approximately 1:45pm, we would grab our backpacks and run to the cafeteria where we would load up on obscene amounts of fruit – our lunch during our walk. The trails that we walked were behind our dorm building, giving us easy access to Nature and peace.
Not a sound could be heard from the university while we walked; to us, it was as though we left our current world for something better, some that only we could understand. The trip would always be the same: after walking for some time, she would find a secluded spot for us to rest and eat, usually finding several trees close together so we could rest our backs against the rough yet stable trunks. There, under the cover of trees and silence, we would eat our fruit and read poetry to each other.
We would read from tattered and marked books containing the works of Plath and Millay, of Dickinson and Sappho, and many other women poets from the past and present. It was during this ritual that we dreamt that our names would be spoken with them as great poetesses, being seduced by their words and in turn, hoping that we would seduce others with our own.
Her favourite was Sophie Jewett, a Victorian poet whose life was not well known. She discovered her by accident one day while looking through a poetry website and soon was captivated by her words. She loved reading her poems out loud because they felt cool and slick gliding across her tongue; she was clearly in love with Ms. Jewett.
“I want to know her like a lover,” she told me after spending five minutes one day telling me about her discovery of Sophie. “I want her to breathe through me.” Others thought her to be mad and desperately lonely, but I knew better. I knew exactly what she meant although my passion for the written word was not as fervent as hers. Perhaps I should have known then but I was young and in love as well. We both were.
The years came and went and soon we both graduated from university with degrees in English. We then enrolled in graduate school for our M.A.s and then our PhDs and within the blink of an eye, we were professors, pillars of the academic and literary societies. We were also published writers in both poetry and literature, winners of awards and special recognitions. At first, people did not take us seriously, thinking us to be just young spinsters with nothing better to do but soon even the most discerning voice was soon silenced in awe of what we had accomplished. We lived together, wrote together, and sometimes made love when our writing passions seemed to overtake us. Our bond was beyond that of any romantic friendship or relationship. We understood each other in ways that many people could and should not. We were each other’s Muse, giving each other constant fuel for our souls. We were truly alive.
I still ask myself if I could have changed what happened to her; was the progression too fast for me to stop? Was I blind to what was truly going on? I still don’t know. Maybe I should no longer care.
I still remember the day: Friday, the day for us to order Chinese food and then crawl through a bookstore. On Friday, I always arrived home first then she would come home thirty minutes later. When I arrived home, I stretched out on our very plush couch and pulled one of my books off the side table to read in peace.
Suddenly, I heard a strange noise coming from our library. I stopped reading for am moment, trying to listen to it and figure out its source. It sounded like paper being ripped apart. After several minutes of listening, I nervously got up and walked down the hallway with my book still in my hand, wondering if I needed to get one of our baseball bats in case it was a burglar. I noticed that the door to the library was ajar, the noise becoming louder and louder with no sounds of it stopping.
When I reached the door, I could barely see into the room but I did see a figure seated on the floor, calmly tearing out pages from one of our books. With anger now in my sight, for who would be so disrespectful towards a book like that?, I slammed the door open and almost fainted at what I saw. There was my roommate and friend, sitting on the floor with a book in her hand, tearing out each page with precision. Her hair, usually pulled back into a ponytail, was loose and limp on her head as though she had been sweating profusely. Her eyes were focused on something that only she could see, something that seemed to hold her in its thrall. She ripped a page from the book then placed it in her mouth then she ripped another page and threw it on the ground. She chewed what pages she had in her mouth, swallowing them as if the book was a part of a five course meal, only to stuff her mouth with more and more pages. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. I walked up to her.
She seemed to have felt my presence, for she stopped ripping the pages and soon her eyes were focused on me. She smiled and told me that she loved me, as one poetess should love another. I asked her why she was eating pages from a book (in a calm tone for I was unsure as to her mindset at this point) and she replied, “Sophie needs me,” in an eerily calm tone. “Sophie wants to be free.”
“Free from what?”
“Free from the pages, the words that bind her. She wants to be free and only I can do it. I am poetess; I have the power to save her.” Her eyes then dropped all contact with me and soon, she was back in her own world, ripping out pages from the book and eating them slowly, trying to free Sophie Jewett from the words. I stood there for a moment, staring at her, not really sure what to do. She was my friend, fellow poetess, and sometimes lover, but now . . . I slowly walked out of the room and closed the door behind me, the sounds of ripping pages burning in my mind. I went back to the couch and picked up a magazine to read. I felt numb.
She stopped showing up for her classes, claiming to me that Sophie needed her constantly. The department, after I explained to them what had happened, gave her a leave of absence with the promise that once better, would come back to teach. Deep inside of me, I knew that she would never teach again. What I did not know was that the department felt the same way but was kind enough to at least make a show of trying to keep her employed.
She stayed in the library, reading and eating pages of Sophie Jewett poetry, claiming that she could feel her breaking free that finally, the world would know of her life and her poetry. My fellow Muse was going to be the one to do it. She bathed constantly, claiming that she wanted her body to be clean and ready for when Sophie would be free. She refused to eat food but continued to eat her pages, claiming it gave her strength.
The days passed. I went to work and taught as best as I could although she was on my mind constantly. As soon as my classes were over for the day, I raced home to check up on her, making sure she did not commit suicide or something just as dangerous.
Then one day, I noticed that she looked different. I could not put my finger on it, only that she looked . . . different. When I walked into the library to do my usual check up on her, her eyes immediately focused on me, lighting up her entire face as she smiled at me. She was no longer eating pages for she had consumed the entire book and several others. I smiled back, not really sure what else to do but I was happy that at least she was smiling.
“Come and sit with me,” she said in a voice that was definitely not my friend’s while waving a hand in my direction. I cautiously sat down next to her and she grabbed my hands and began to kiss them. I could only stare at her . . . and stare, because this was no longer my roommate. Her facial structure had changed, her hair colour had changed, and even her eyes had changed. She was now someone else. I swallowed nervously then spoke.
“Sophie?” She looked up at the sound of that name and smiled.
“I am forever grateful to your friend for what she did for me. I am free now.”
“Where is my friend? Is she . . . inside of you?”
“She is and yet . . . not. I now occupy this body; she is now a good memory to me.” She released my hands then took my face in her own. For a moment, she stared into my eyes and I felt as though I was being mentally interrogated and ashamed although I was innocent. Her eyes held me and I could not look away. I knew then just what my friend saw that first night.



People ask me if my friend moved, to which I always say yes. She found another teaching job, one that would pay her more money and who could refuse that? They nod and smile at me then walk away to their own lives while I am still sorting through my own. Sophie (she prefers me to call her Jewett) lives with me, spending her days getting used to the ways of the modern world and writing poetry. At first, I would not speak to her, going about my day and ignoring her altogether. I wanted to punish her for taking my friend away from me.
“She gave herself up for me,” Jewett said repeatedly, trying to get me to understand. “She wanted this to happen.”
“So that you could be alive again? Wasn’t that selfish of you?”
“No, not at all. Her love of poetry was so great that she offered her own self in order to give my words life again. People had forgotten me and she wanted that to change. She felt that my life and my words were important enough to be rescued and revived.” After some time had passed, I began to understand just what she meant; my friend loved Sophie’s words so much that in her own way, she gave them life again so that others would know of her.
Under the pages are breaths taken deliberately slow.
Under the pages beats a heart.
Under the pages is a Poetess.



Several Poems by Sophie Jewett
(From the Poetry Foundation www.poetryfoundation.org)




Across the Border
by Sophie Jewett

I have read somewhere that the birds of fairyland
are white as snow.—W. B. Yeats


Where all the trees bear golden flowers,
And all the birds are white;
Where fairy folk in dancing hours
Burn stars for candlelight;

Where every wind and leaf can talk,
But no man understand
Save one whose child-feet chanced to walk
Green paths of fairyland;

I followed two swift silver wings;
I stalked a roving song;
I startled shining, silent things;
I wandered all day long.

But when it seemed the shadowy hours
Whispered of soft-foot night,
I crept home to sweet common flowers,
Brown birds, and candlelight.










Defeated
by Sophie Jewett

When the last fight is lost, the last sword broken;
The last call sounded, the last order spoken;
When from the field where braver hearts lie sleeping,
Faint, and athirst, and blinded, I come creeping,
With not one waving shred of palm to bring you,
With not one splendid battle-song to sing you,
O Love, in my dishonor and defeat,
Your measureless compassion will be sweet.













To a Child
by Sophie Jewett

The leaves talked in the twilight, dear;
Hearken the tale they told:
How in some far-off place and year,
Before the world grew old,

I was a dreaming forest tree,
You were a wild, sweet bird
Who sheltered at the heart of me
Because the north wind stirred;

How, when the chiding gale was still,
When peace fell soft on fear,
You stayed one golden hour to fill
My dream with singing, dear.

To-night the self-same songs are sung
The first green forest heard;
My heart and the gray world grow young—
To shelter you, my bird.


White Head
by Sophie Jewett

Prone on the northern water,
That laps him about the breast,
Like the Sphinx in the sand, forever
The giant lies in rest.

The sails drive swift before him,
And the surf beats at his lip,
But the gray eyes look out seaward
Noting nor wave nor ship.

The centuries drift over,
He marks not with smile nor frown,
Drift over him cloud and sea-gull,
Swallow and thistledown.

I, of the race that passes,
Quick with its hope and its fear,
Lean on his brow and question,
Plead at his senseless ear:

“What of thy past unmeasured?
And what of the peoples gone?
What of the sea’s first singing?
What of the primal dawn?

“What was the weird that bowed thee?
How did the struggle cease?
Out of what Titan anguish
Issued thy hopeless peace?”

Nothing the pale lips utter,
What hath been, nor what shall be;
Under the brow’s stern shadow,
The gray eyes look to sea.

The blue glows round and over,
Thin-veiled, as it were God’s face;
I feel the breath, the spirit,
That knows nor time nor space.

And my heart grieves for the giant
In his pitiful repose,
Mocked by the vagrant gladness
Of a laggard brier-rose;

Mocked to his face from seaward
By the flash and whirl of wings;
Mocked from the grass above him,
By life that creeps and sings.

I care not for his wisdom,
His secret unconfessed;
I yearn toward rose and cricket,
Ephemeral and blest.

Ah! if he might, how would he
Quicken to love and to tears;
For my immortal minute
Barter his endless years!

He rests on the restless water,
And I on the grasses brown,
Drift over us cloud and sea-gull,
Swallow and thistledown.
























Armistice
by Sophie Jewett

The water sings along our keel,
The wind falls to a whispering breath;
I look into your eyes and feel
No fear of life or death;
So near is love, so far away
The losing strife of yesterday.

We watch the swallow skim and dip;
Some magic bids the world be still;
Life stands with finger upon lip;
Love hath his gentle will;
Though hearts have bled, and tears have burned,
The river floweth unconcerned.

We pray the fickle flag of truce
Still float deceitfully and fair;
Our eyes must love its sweet abuse;
This hour we will not care,
Though just beyond to-morrow's gate,
Arrayed and strong, the battle wait.






















The Pilgrim
by Sophie Jewett

"Such a palmer ne'er was seene,
Lesse Love himselfe had palmer beene."
NEVER TOO LATE.

Pilgrim feet, pray whither bound?
Pilgrim eyes, pray whither bent?
Sandal-shod and travel-gowned,
Lo, I seek the way they went
Late who passed toward Holy Land.

Pilgrim, it was long ago;
None remains who saw that band;
Grass and forest overgrow
Every path their footing wore.
Men are wise; they seek no more
Roads that lead to Holy Land.

Proud his look, as who should say:
I shall find where lies the way.

Pilgrim, thou art fair of face,
Staff and scrip are not for thee;
Gentle pilgrim, of thy grace,
Leave thy quest, and bide with me.
Love shall serve thee, joy shall bless;
Thou wert made for tenderness:
God's green world is fair and sweet;
Not o'er sea and Eastern strand,
But where friend and lover meet
Lies the way to Holy Land.

Low his voice, his lashes wet:
One day if God will—not yet.

Pilgrim, pardon me and heed.
Men of old who took that way
Went for fame of goodly deed,
Or, if sooth the stories say,
Sandalled priest, or knight in selle,
Flying each in pain and hate,
Harassed by stout fiends of hell,
Sought his crime to expiate.
Prithee, Pilgrim, go not hence;
Clear thy brow, and white thy hand,
What shouldst thou with penitence?
Wherefore seek to Holy Land?

Stern the whisper on his lip:
Sin and shame are in my scrip.

Pilgrim, pass, since it must be;
Take thy staff, and have thy will;
Prayer and love shall follow thee;
I will watch thee o'er the hill.
What thy fortune God doth know;
By what paths thy feet must go.
Far and dim the distance lies,
Yet my spirit prophesies:
Not in vigil lone and late,
Bowed upon the tropic sand,
But within the city gate,
In the struggle of the street,
Suddenly thine eyes shall meet
His whose look is Holy Land.

Smiled the pilgrim, sad and sage:
Long must be my pilgrimage.





















If Spirits Walk
by Sophie Jewett

“I have heard (but not believed) the spirits of the dead
May walk again.”
WINTER’S TALE

If spirits walk, Love, when the night climbs slow
The slant footpath where we were wont to go,
Be sure that I shall take the self-same way
To the hill-crest, and shoreward, down the gray,
Sheer, gravelled slope, where vetches straggling grow.

Look for me not when gusts of winter blow,
When at thy pane beat hands of sleet and snow;
I would not come thy dear eyes to affray,
If spirits walk.

But when, in June, the pines are whispering low,
And when their breath plays with thy bright hair so
As some one's fingers once were used to play—
That hour when birds leave song, and children pray,
Keep the old tryst, sweetheart, and thou shalt know
If spirits walk.





















In Harvest
by Sophie Jewett

Mown meadows skirt the standing wheat;
I linger, for the hay is sweet,
New-cut and curing in the sun.
Like furrows, straight, the windrows run,
Fallen, gallant ranks that tossed and bent
When, yesterday, the west wind went
A-rioting through grass and grain.
To-day no least breath stirs the plain;
Only the hot air, quivering, yields
Illusive motion to the fields
Where not the slenderest tassel swings.
Across the wheat flash sky-blue wings;
A goldfinch dangles from a tall,
Full-flowered yellow mullein; all
The world seems turning blue and gold.
Unstartled, since, even from of old,
Beauty has brought keen sense of her,
I feel the withering grasses stir;
Along the edges of the wheat,
I hear the rustle of her feet:
And yet I know the whole sea lies,
And half the earth, between our eyes.




















Song
by Sophie Jewett

“O Love, thou art winged and swift,
Yet stay with me evermore!”
And I guarded my house with bolt and bar
Lest Love fly forth at the door.

Without, in the world, ’t was cold,
While Love and I together
Laughed and sang by my red hearth-fire,
Nor knew it was winter weather.

Sweet Love would lull me to sleep,
In his tireless arm caressed;
His shadowing wings and burning eyes
Like night and stars wrought rest.

And ever the beat of Love’s heart
As a chime rang at my ear;
And ever Love’s bending, beautiful face
Covered me close from fear.

Was it long ere I waked alone?
A snow-drift whitened the floor;
I saw spent ashes upon my hearth
And Death in my open door.