Bookin' It

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Astigmatism by Amy Lowell

For all those, including myself, who might be tempted to think their view of what’s right or beautiful is the only one.

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Astigmatism

by Amy Lowell
To Ezra Pound: with Much Friendship and Admiration and Some Differences of Opinion

The Poet took his walking-stick
Of fine and polished ebony.
Set in the close-grained wood
Were quaint devices;
Patterns in ambers,
And in the clouded green of jades.
The top was smooth, yellow ivory,
And a tassel of tarnished gold
Hung by a faded cord from a hole
Pierced in the hard wood,
Circled with silver.
For years the Poet had wrought upon this cane.
His wealth had gone to enrich it,
His experiences to pattern it,
His labour to fashion and burnish it.
To him it was perfect,
A work of art and a weapon,
A delight and a defence.
The Poet took his walking-stick
And walked abroad.

Peace be with you, Brother.

The Poet came to a meadow.
Sifted through the grass were daisies,
Open-mouthed, wondering, they gazed at the sun.
The Poet struck them with his cane.
The little heads flew off, and they lay
Dying, open-mouthed and wondering,
On the hard ground.
“They are useless. They are not roses,” said the Poet.

Peace be with you, Brother. Go your ways.

The Poet came to a stream.
Purple and blue flags waded in the water;
In among them hopped the speckled frogs;
The wind slid through them, rustling.
The Poet lifted his cane,
And the iris heads fell into the water.
They floated away, torn and drowning.
“Wretched flowers,” said the Poet,
“They are not roses.”

Peace be with you, Brother. It is your affair.

The Poet came to a garden.
Dahlias ripened against a wall,
Gillyflowers stood up bravely for all their short stature,
And a trumpet-vine covered an arbour
With the red and gold of its blossoms.
Red and gold like the brass notes of trumpets.
The Poet knocked off the stiff heads of the dahlias,
And his cane lopped the gillyflowers at the ground.
Then he severed the trumpet-blossoms from their stems.
Red and gold they lay scattered,
Red and gold, as on a battle field;
Red and gold, prone and dying.
“They were not roses,” said the Poet.

Peace be with you, Brother.
But behind you is destruction, and waste places.

The Poet came home at evening,
And in the candle-light
He wiped and polished his cane.
The orange candle flame leaped in the yellow ambers,
And made the jades undulate like green pools.
It played along the bright ebony,
And glowed in the top of cream-coloured ivory.
But these things were dead,
Only the candle-light made them seem to move.
“It is a pity there were no roses,” said the Poet.

Peace be with you, Brother. You have chosen your part.

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6 thoughts on “Astigmatism by Amy Lowell

  1. Thanks for sharing this thought provoking poem–very nice!

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    • Hi! Nice to see another Marcia here. 🙂 My pleasure to share it. Amy Lowell is my favorite poet of all time, I think, though I confess, I didn’t remember this one until a friend shared it with me recently. It’s lovely, isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment today. Have a great afternoon!

      Like

  2. All those poor flowers, whose only sin was to not be roses.

    And look, we’re coincidental flower poem buddies! 🙂

    Like

    • I know. It made me so mad to think of the little daisies, staring up in open-mouthed wonder. I wanted to smite HIM with his walking stick. 🙂 Did you post it on your blog, too? I didn’t realize that, or I could have reblogged. It’s so lovely, though, isn’t it? Her imagery is wonderful. *sigh* Oh, to be able to write like THAT. The heck with this minimalist stuff. In my world Less is not More. Less is…LESS. Period. 😀

      Like

      • I was still mulling it over–but I might post it sometime later, who knows. Gotta feed the blog!

        Like

        • Ha. Mine has been on a diet lately. I don’t seem to have enough of me to go around while I’m writing. And my editor is a slave driver. 😀 Oh, all right. I’M the slave driver, wanting to get this book finished. I admit it. YOU, on the other hand, are a saint! But I really am behind on my reviews, and keep hoping I’ll catch up soon. I’ve got a couple of new ones to get up.

          Yeah, feeding the blog is right.

          Like

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