And all is dark
No time to mark
Life’s hurt forget
And all is dark
No time to mark
Life’s hurt forget
Oh my love
paint me into the shadows of your dreams
I want to be there among the drifting moonbeams of your waning passion
and as their dim light fades in the morning dew
to watch as our hopes sink slowly
through pools of deepest blue.
Let their adagio
their mellow harmonies
accompany the murmurings of my fading breath
and as its remnants settle on the bed of those fathomless depths
let them guide my blissful path to Heaven
The songs were of chill and anguish,
Sad songs with wistful themes,
Telling of loss and longing,
Songs of uncertain dreams.
Wistful, anxious, plaintive,
Sung in the dark days of war,
As though no end to suffering
Would reach us evermore.
She sang of the wandering gypsies,
The old lady sweet and kind,
Of old Barbara Frietchie’s flag,
And the boys who were left behind.
But though her words were sombre
I knew as she held me tight,
Her clutch was so warm and tender
The darkness would turn to light.
What of me remains…
Persists when I have gone?
Take away my body
Deconstruct my presence
then rebuild an image
made only of memory
unique to each who knew me
no composite save each
biographed reflected anecdote
Save what I have created
those I have affected,
tainted I trust not,
as parent, teacher, associate,
as lover and as friend
as moderator and as judge
as poet and as peasant
Sic transit gloria mundi
And thus my light
as light does
will fade from view
A single spark began my tale
From an instant of repose.
The throb of creation stirred within
And burgeoning life arose.
The candle spluttered into life
As the flame that lit it died.
It gathered strength and grew apace,
Its feathered flame untied.
Flickering gently in still air
Until it caught the breeze,
Its flame intensified and grew,
Spreading itself with ease.
Dispelling gloom, its wholesome light,
The dark intent to smother.
The reflected child of one bright spark
And parent of another.
I thought how works the simile
To pass its blood line on?
One flame still burning strong and bright,
The other dead and gone.
Never quite to be extinguished
Parent and child enriched.
The spark that gave my poem life
Gone now but still exists.
[ # 80 of My Favourite Short Poems ]
Edna St. Vincent Millay was an American poet and playwright who was born in Rockland, Maine, in 1892. I have used a short poem of hers before in this series – in November of 2017, q.v. . . . ‘What Lips My Lips Have Kissed’ .
This poem is even shorter, but I find that it does have a lot to say, about her own lifestyle and about the times and the milieu which she inhabited in her heyday in 1920s New York. Millay titled the book in which this poem was published A Few Figs From Thistles, and this poem was the first one in the book, hence ‘First Fig’.
The poem is highly symbolic and the opening line plunges the reader into that arresting metaphor which she uses to describe her wild, bohemian, certainly unorthodox spirit. The second line, however, recognises the ephemeral nature of such an existence with the bitter-sweet ‘It will not last the night’. She is acknowledging that brightness is not all, a candle burning simultaneously from both ends will burn twice as quickly and such hedonistic times will not last.
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
As the swell of the sea reaches the shore
Waves wilfully break on the beckoning beach;
Light catches the colours riding the crests,
Blushing in red, in pink and in peach.
While above as we watch in reverence and awe,
The marmalade sky sugars the view,
Embracing the split twixt heaven and earth,
Splitting the vibrant view into two.
In such scenes as this all life gains a meaning,
For life and desire reside in the sea;
The beauty of nature is here embodied,
Bringing contentment and stillness to me.
My poem originates from a consideration of the oil paintings of Devon artist, Katie Sarra. Many of Katie’s paintings present visions of the sea in its many different moods, still, turbulent, calm , moody. Many of these seascapes are displayed in her gallery facing the River Daw as it runs through the Devonshire seaside town of Dawlish. Her gallery is named ‘SEA LIGHT’. It is a great joy to spend time in this beautiful gallery which doubles as a thriving cafe and tea rooms. Two photographs of the gallery front below . . .
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