Friday, July 29, 2011

Illuminated Manuscript


Page from the Arthurian Romances illuminated manuscript


Illuminated Manuscript

You bring  a finger stuttering down my cheek.
Each jump it makes, a current arrows through
that pierces skin, a blue and burning streak,
a sigil in the alphabet of you.

Invisible these marks but ever true;
imagine if one finger paints so clear
what manuscripts your body’s written here.


July 2011


 
On alternate Thursdays, Gay Cannon hosts a Form symposium at dVerse. This week, she's chosen to highlight an old poetic form, the Rhyme Royal. This consists of seven line stanzas in iambic pentameter. with an ababbcc rhyme scheme, which can be varied in several ways. I've chosen to write just a single stanza, but this form is often used in longer narrative poems.




Image: Page from the Arthurian Romances,
medieval illuminated manuscript,
northern France, late 13th century
See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

26 comments:

  1. A wonderful extended metaphor, and beautiful poem.

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  2. Dee-lightful. A visitor to Iona who beheld a page of the Book of Kells-- one of the greatest illuminated manuscripts to survive the flood of time-- proclaimed in astonishment, "this surely is the work of an angel!" You trope that delight in world made word into this poem where word becomes flesh, the everlasting document of souls in congress where a finger down a cheek becomes a painted page bound in the heart. Surely such love is the work of an angel -- nah, even better, a human who reaches for the heights of love. The lover thus is copyist, writing down the ancient gospel sooth of the only true meter of poetry, the love song. (Royal rhyme, indeedy.) And the beloved's cheek is pale as parchment, come alive with that electric touch. Stylus of eros, indeed. Who wrote the Book of Love? We did, night after night, through all the loves of a life ... - Brendan

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  3. It really is a great conceit, the body as word and manuscript, the finger's touch the sigil (what a great word).

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  4. illuminated manuscripts are so cool...love the artistry...as art resides in each of us as well...we wont talk about how i like to run my hand across the page...

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  5. Now this is a great piece (and reminds me I haven't touched the manuscript recently, think I might have to admit a few things to myself about it) and flows with power and desire. You did quite well, I like it!

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  6. Very beautiful. I can see there care that has been taken to choose every word with care. Such a perfect comparison is drawn in the last line.

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  7. Marvelous. The extended metaphor is brilliantly conceived and masterfully executed.

    David

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  8. (Oh go on, tell the world you don't know from iambic pentameter) I see how you disguise the form with higher art while still building with perfect craft. It is with lines like these "a current arrows through/that pierces skin" and "imagine if one finger paints so clear/what manuscripts" that your piece transcends form with perfect word choice and clear-eyed artistry. You are my hero.

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  9. Hedge! You old romantic you! This is beautiful.

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  10. Engrossing: this piece of fantastic writing is inspirational.

    The skill employed to impose your voice and style unto the form is V Impressive and a great demonstration.

    The concept as a whole is sublime.

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  11. This is so gorgeous and sensual. I love the metaphor. Brilliant!

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  12. Many thanks all. I'm hoping to get around to everyone's submission, slightly held back by some feverish, heat induced malady that has made my head feel like an over-ripe melon the last few days.

    @Rosemary Sincere thanks. Very impressed with your blog.

    @B: And it's one of those books that you can't lay down, even when you lie down. ;_) The pages bound in the heart can be reread over the soul's centuries, just as these primitive but artful medieval scriptures, romance manuscripts and 'books of hours' delight us still. Thanks as always for reading and understanding.

    @Ruth I love that word and probably overuse it, but we all have our favorites, yes?

    @FB Slaveringly so, at times.

    @Gay I'm not kidding about the iambic pentameter. This one, I got lucky--just blanked my mind and wrote after agonizing with another one for hours and saying every curse word known to the poetic mind. :P Thanks so much for your kind words, and I loved your Revenant, with its ghostly music.

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  13. You work this form like you invented it yourself. Beautiful.

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  14. I am very late to the party and find that Brendan and Gay have been having the best conversation in the corner. If I could add anything it would be that as a bibliophile who has a large collection of art books, one so artfully bound in aluminum that I practically cry when I think about opening it, you have captured it all in this jewel. You are a great illuminator through your words. You are a shining talent with the good sense to hone your art, to strive for the perfectly balanced line, to inscribe with delicate and powerful strokes on the books of our being. Thank you for your love of the arts and the respect you give your readers. We are truly blessed.

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  15. beautiful to the form and content~

    you have mastered the art very well~

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  16. This oozes ease and is beautiful to read aloud.. delicious. Were you slaving for hours?

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  17. Now a love song to a book, my kind of poem

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  18. Wonderful job using the new form. Really illuminated the picture, shining a new light on it with your words.

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  19. Well now you make it look so easy... definitely my favorite!

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  20. Well done! I especially enjoyed,
    "imagine if one finger paints so clear
    what manuscripts your body’s written here."

    :)

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  21. {sigh}
    i agree with Mama Zen ~ you couldn't have written anything more perfectly if you had invented the form yourself. i didn't think i even cared for this type of poetry form. the sensuality and amazing imagery transcend form. i am in AWE! between you and Fireblossom, i think i should just close my blog and go home now.

    stunning!
    {sorry for using the word "form" repeatedly.}
    dani ♥

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  22. My admiration for this poem knows no bounds - for your skill with metaphor and your wholehearted adoption and enhancement of the form, I salute you.

    I had to google sigil and it led me on an interesting voyage of discovery!

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  23. Love the alphabet metaphor! And lingering behind the book seems to be a sensual longing! Very beautiful!

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  24. Super use of an ancient form for modern language-- kidos!

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  25. I'm glad you got lucky! This one sings. You've worked the form wonderfully to your (and our) advantage.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg