Sunday, March 13, 2005

Daphne With Her Thighs In Bark

“Daphne with Her Thighs in Bark”
[Ezra Pound]

so that,
in the next myth
my sister will be wiser.

Let her learn from me:

the opposite of passion
is not virtue
but routine.

Look at me.
I can be cooking,
making coffee,
scrubbing wood perhaps,
and back it comes:
the crystalline, the otherwhere,
the wood

where I was
when he began the chase.
And how I ran from him!

satyr-faced he was.

The trees reached out to me,
I silvered and
I quivered. I shook out my foil of
quick leaves.

He snouted past.
What a fool I was!

I shall be here forever,
setting out the tea,
among the coppers and the
branching alloys and
the tin shine of this kitchen;
laying saucers on the pine table.

Save face, sister.
Fall. Stumble.
Rut with him. His rough heat will keep you warm.

You will be better off than me,
with your memories,
down the garden
at the start of March—

unable to keep your eyes
off the chestnut tree: j

ust the way
it thrusts and hardens.

--Eavan Boland


So I had said a couple weeks ago that I was going to post at least a poem a week, and here it is. The first one. As usual, I am off schedule. I used this poem in my class when we talked about literary allusion. Eavan Boland happens to be in the top five of my favorite poets. I probably will post more than a few of her poems. She also was the inspiration for my dissertation topic, but since I am doing a good job ignoring my dissertation lately, I will not expound on that.

This is not really the mood I am in this morning-- I thought perhaps I post something bright and crisp. That's how it is here this morning. The sun is so insistent through the window that the thermostat said it was 75 in here. It's not-- I would never turn the heat on that high-- but with the sun shining directly on it, the thermostat has been duped. I almost duped too-- it looks like it should be becoming spring outside with the sun the way it is this morning-- alas, we are still wintering here. According to the local weathercasters, it's going to be unseasonably cold here until at least next Sunday. Temps in 20s and 30s; at night it goes down into the teens. We should pushing 40s by this time of the year. I am ready for spring. I am ready for green leaves. (I can hear Philip Larkin's poem "The Trees" coming on-- it's definitely more the mood I am in this morning.)

I have been thinking about our child dreams though. I realized last night that the vision I have of children in our house doesn't extend into middle or high school, and when I think of those years I think of dreary nights full of homework and early sunsets. Is it possible that I hated winter even as a twelve year old? Spring evenings or late autumn nights with homework don't sound as bad... What kind of mother will I be to a fourteen year old? I had a hard time with my mom as a teenager-- not because I was out of control or wild-- just had a hard time. I would much rather not have that with my own child. Now, of course, my mother and I talk pretty much every day and I really like her: I would pick her as my friend.

I wonder if this middle school deary feeling has something to do with myself-- I mean, when I think of someone with a baby, or toddler, I think (justified or not, it's what I think) "young parent." And if it's the first child, the parent is indeed young, as a parent if not as a person. An older child signified an older person-- so maybe my fears about teenagers and homework are really fears of my own aging. Which I really haven't felt, to tell you the truth, fears of aging. Yet... yet....

It's a lesson I can take from the poem, "the opposite of passion/ is not virtue/ but routine." Something I fall into easily, but chaff against at the same time.

So what about you? What do you think of the poem?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This poem was actually by Eavan Boland, not Pound.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This poem was dedicated to Ezra Pound by Boland. It’s title comes from the 12th verse of his “ Hugh Selwyn Maubley - Part 1”. The poster is aware of Boland’s authorship.

1:42 PM  

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