03 January 2008

January Poem of the Month

Secondary Worlds

You said to me, “Why read a fantasy?
Can’t we learn enough from history?
Why should I care about some universe
That’s non-existent—well, except in verse—
When this poor world of mine is such a mess?
Talking animals are foolishness;
Goblins, witches, wizards, dwarves, and elves
Useless at best: at worst, they’re something else
Demonic or idolatrous. These gods
Of wood and water—what are they but frauds
In lovely forms? Go learn your catechism,
Leave Middle-Earth, or Narnia, or Bism
Inside their own mythologies. Come read
Some facts, and don’t tell me the poetry
Is fairer there, for I don’t really care.”

Oh, do you not? I thought I saw you stare
With fixéd wonder at a painted page:
A green hill, golden cup, and sword arranged
In an enchanted wood. I thought your gaze
Meandered idly to the printed page,
Then started open with a blissful shock
Of beauty. There, although the beasts could talk,
Although a dryad stepped from every tree,
Although the landscape was an allegory:
Still you read on. I wonder what you felt
When unicorns appeared and broke your heart
With whiteness and their poignancy of grace;
When the ocean’s secrets, doubled on its face,
Were your own secrets, mirrored in its depths;
When what the beasties had to say was truth,
And your heart leapt and grew to give it room.

- Admonit


Rosie Perera said...

Love it! I'm someone who is only lately coming to love fantasy after thinking it was a waste of time for much of my early life. It takes a while to get used to seeing it as "your own secrets, mirrored in its depths," but that is coming too, slowly.

I like the dialogue form. The rhyme scheme is just irregular enough to have tripped me up when I first looked back to see what it was, but in the end I decided I like it that way. Makes it feel more like a natural conversation.

Eurydice said...

Yes! This is a wonderful poem for the reasons spelled out so well by Rosie. Also, I know to whom you are speaking in this poem, and that makes it all the more real to me. Oh!!! You make me miss Narnia so much! I haven't been there in ages...
Thank you, Admonit!