03 March 2009

March Poem of the Month

I have recently been working on a series of "persona" poems, in which I take on the identity of some real, fictional, or archetypal character and speak in his or her voice. What's fascinating about this is how I can comment on my own inner workings or on those of my friends, family, and acquaintances, while also revealing or discribing universal psycho-spiritual truths. This was written for a friend who is in an agnostic phase. Enjoy.

In Persona II: Wotan Wonders if there is a God

If I took off this eye patch, maybe I wouldn’t be blind.
Maybe I would see myself, reflected in the pools of Erda.
If only I could remember I am a god—or else a son of God—
perhaps the clouds would open and I would understand.
If I dropped this twisted walking stick, maybe I could stand.

I could thunder and rage at the tall empty sky—
as that frog-faced Alberich blasphemes me,
paddling his webbed-footed fingers in puddles of earth,
dabbling in divinity—what does he know (but do I?)—
Beneath this intentional eye patch, maybe I am not blind.

From the altitude of Valhalla, I suspect the rarity of air
is a function of some vast expanse where I should be,
where a perfection dwells; but down here, wandering,
I shake my thunder-fist and howl dirty songs against the sun.
I cannot remember I am a god—or else a son of God.

I am a wonder, I know: the music made around me,
the glories of my face, the strong amazement of the body
that I wear among mortals; and I should pose tall
and pull the spear-deep wisdom from the world ash tree:
If I stopped leaning on a walking stick, maybe I could stand.

Your love is better than gold, more beautiful than magic golden rings,
I thought I told her: but she grew invisible and maybe turned away—
so I wander, wondering, imagining my fits of rage
do not shake the stars, do not wake dragons. I could blame
the eye patch, say that without it maybe I wouldn’t be blind.

I could learn from reading, writing: books of wisdom,
books of nature; facts that I should know, and do know
in the core of me. But in my handsome earth-suit I prefer
the alias of espionage, of unrequital, victimized agnosticized
skeptical despair. Remember, I am a god—or else a son of God—

a subcreator of my introspective self. I forge my right
to see peripherally or not at all; to understand
or miscomprehend; to fight the dragon or to walk away.
How many miles have I traveled, crawling, among men?
If I dropped this twisted walking stick, maybe I could stand

to listen to the answers:
Is invisibility necessary for ignorance?
Is infatuation the same as incarnation?
Is immortality the opposite of immolation?
Is identity a sole conception, or the soul’s receptacle?
If only I could remember I am not blind,
I could stand being a son of God.



gemalee said...

mrs. H!
I dont know if you were planning on coming to the performance....the date though is actually is the 13th-- not the 15th like we told you.
see you, maybe.

Rosie Perera said...

I like it! I'm going to see Wagner's Ring again in Seattle in August (for I think the fifth time in my life). Wotan is powerful imagery, and I like the way you've imagined that his weaknesses are self-made, which is reading beyond the text of the opera, but not much. He definitely is a flawed character.

Have you shared it with your friend? Any response? I often wonder whether people who write something "for" someone, with that particular person as an implied audience, always share it with her or only use her state of mind as an inspiration for their writing. Particularly in a case like this, when your poem might be seen as a kind of invitation to believe, which can sometimes turn agnostics off. It's certainly a much more beautiful and honest invitation to believe than some simplistic evangelism tool, though.

Iambic Admonit said...

Thanks, Gem! I will certainly plan on coming if events are under my control. :)

Thank you, Rosie. I have shared this poem with my friend, and have not heard back from him yet. We had a conversation, actually, in which he expressed some concern about his own unbelief -- or at least his own serious doubts. I do not know if it really applies to him, but the concept kind of took my pen and ran with it!

Gem said...

Mrs. H,
In my poetry studies, I have been reading a lot from Paul Laurence Dunbar. Have you read him? Some of his poems remind me of your Co-Inherence. Like his "Sympathy":

The tear another's tears bring forth,
The sigh which answers sigh,
The pulse that beats at other's woes,
E'en though our own be nigh,

A balm to bathe the wounded heart
Where sorrow's hand hath lain,
The link divine from soul to soul
That makes us one in pain,—
Sweet sympathy, benignant ray,
Light of the soul doth shine;
In it is human nature giv'n
A touch of the divine.

Just thought I'd share that with you. Hope to see you Fri.!

Iambic Admonit said...

Thanks, Gem; this is lovely. I am not familiar with his work.

Post something of yours sometime???

Darlin said...

Dear. Mrs. H,
In Lit. we are Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. For an assignment
We had to write a “found poem”—choosing one chapter, you select phrases and create a poem from it. I thought it was really fun to see what you can come up with—Using none of your own words you can still create an entirely original poem, not at all relating to the actually story. I thought I’d share mine with you. I wanted you to know we all still think of you. Thanks for all the poetry mentorship!

With torches in our hands
Fierce fire brooded.
The electric light
Seemed to have infected us.
Relieved by the light,
I could not close my eyes.
We walked on without saying a word.
Old red sandstone sparkle magnificently,
Streaked with white,
Rich crimson or yellow:
Industrial world does not see:
Human hands
Depriving it still of the sun’s rays.

David said...

I greatly enjoyed the rhythm and words of the march poem. I liked the recurring line about how if one were to stop leaning on a walking stick, than one might be able to stand; it holds many truths for both the individual and the world; even the universe as a whole.