Genesis of another poem
Things are slow on the board these days. At the danger of putting up too many words, I want to lend some activity for the chance visitor.
I have favorite poems, a few such. What makes them favorite is not entirely clear. It is either what they say or how they say what they say. Case keeps unclear.
Over two years ago, before Delectable Mnts, I was playing on another poetry board, the name of which escapes me. Someone posted an idea for improv play. From memory the idea was: I love you when... Being in the mood I played, typing to the screen. A week, maybe two weeks later I remembered the poem and revisited the board. Poem surprised me. It looked to have possibility. The policeman line especially tickled me.
While writing it out on paper, suddenly the case of Merlin and Vivian came to mind. Clearly a more interesting theme than 'I love you when.' There are two stories about Merlin's end days. The standard story, coming through Mallory as I recall, is that Merlin being in love with the sorceress, Vivian, shows her all his magic. Once he has no more to give her, and she has no need of him, she imprisons him in crystal. Second story has it that Vivian is the Lady of the Lake, the high priestess in the old ways of fertility and Sovereignty, or the sacred bond between a people and their land. And Vivian, here, encases Merlin in crystal in order to save him from death. The act is performed out of her love for him. Carl Jung once called Merlin the archetypal son (sacred son) to the Great Mother. I remember reading that comment and immediately understood why Merlin has always been my favorite of the Arthurian characters. Percival being second, Gawain third.
Leap made and there the starting line, or the given line as Valery called a poem's first line, the only thing given, the rest having to be worked for. 'I see you best when...' The poem was all there, right there on the paper. But it needed over a year to get line rhythm as right as I could and to switch up the couplet lines for the sake of variety. It was pointed out to me that starting every line with 'when' makes for tedium. Critic was right. Ending on a quatrain made organic sense.
I've shown the poem here before. Someone objected to I think the rhythmic pace, it being too fast. Maybe so. I don't know. Still it is a favorite poem.
Merlin to Vivian
(maybe just before she encases him in crystal)
I see you best
when you push me in my steps,
when yours becomes the way,
and your body tilts the ocean,
and you meet your touch to fires you crave;
when you stop yourself from killing boredom’s hurt,
when you keep yourself sane,
and you show the world your naked luster,
and you show us all grace in the gloom;
when your breath touches me, when you trust,
when you tell the policeman I’m yours to keep,
and the baby you bloom is yours alone,
and the smell you smell is yours alone;
when the night you wake to is your friend,
when I am not the enemy,
and your belly’s need pulls on love,
and your belly need calls on death;
when you no longer care to know yourself,
when you stare clean through the stars;
and the cave you keep is your home again,
and you are what grounds me in the way you do.
Nov/28/2010, 5:02 pm
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