Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Flowers of Dorian Gray





Flowers of Dorian Gray



The richest harvest always comes they say
from blackest earth deeptilled in hard worked fields.
Still there’s a freedom in the tumbleweed
the dry unworked and feckless desert yields
or blowing dandelions, golden in the clay.

Now dead machines and poison tend the seed,
make food of sorts for swollen city hives.
The soil sprouts up a greensick paper crop;
where lawless gamblers rule mad killing thrives
while dutiful puppets pirouette and bleed.

But here’s a place I’ve made the circus stop
where seeds fall as they will, where time’s own face
is changed into wild flowers of Dorian Gray
where all deeds past with beauty interlace,
where top is bottom and the bottom’s top.




April 2012


Posted for   real toads
Kerry's Challenge: The Envelope Quintet
And challenge it was. I chose the extended alternate version of the form
abcba, cdedc, efafe in the hated and dreaded iambic pentameter, which has royally kicked my butt up down and sideways for the last 24 hours.



Also posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
Karin Gustafson hosts this weekend, with a prompt entitled Duty Calls,
asking us to explore the realms of duty and obligation.





Process notes: In the famous novel by Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, a man's evil and dissipated choices are reflected in a portrait which grows older and uglier with each deed, while his face remains youthful and handsome. I've reworked and reversed Wilde's metaphor here a bit.



Image: Flowers of Dorian Gray,
© joy ann jones, 2010, 2012

30 comments:

  1. There is so much to enjoy in this post, Joy. The beautiful garden...(deep, deep sigh from me), the perfect form...(you know how to work the Iambs like no one else), the depth and relevance of subject...(the travesty of modern farming methods) and the uplifting conclusion...(thank heaven for your topsy turvy Hedgewitch world)

    I'm so glad you battled through the challenge to share this poem with us.

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  2. i read this as one big metaphor for life and the circumstances...no matter how things go upside down, how corrupt the politicians around us...there's still power left to the people to make it stop at our own door and go back to basics...back to how it should be and how it should be done..and that can mean, working the field hard but it's rewarding in the end...much enjoyed hedge...and good morning...smiles

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  3. Thanks, Kerry and Claudia--phew, this one is small but took ages! I've been at it since 3:00 am, so I'm taking a break but will be back to make the rounds here shortly.

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  4. I appreciate the lovely form Hedge...its a tough form.

    Your opening lines are terrific...the richest harvest from the blackest earth... to where all deeds past with beauty interlace...
    Thanks for sharing your words ~

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  5. yes.... wow, good one. i realize this took some work but you make it seem effortless and have made a real point with your words. i love the photo, too.

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    1. i really like the strength in that last stanza esp after the grit of the one before it,where lawless gamblers rule mad killing thrives
      while dutiful puppets pirouette and bleed...is a wicked description...and to follow with this is where i make the circus stop...nature, the garden, i find solace there myself...even in its wildness...

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  6. this is fabulous... love the concept, the Dorian reference, and you pulled the form off wonderfully.
    i live in farm country, and have a big garden myself. i really felt this one.

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  7. I loved gardening, and it's true that the deeper you go the better the crop. Before circumstances intervened, I was using heirloom seeds and I was happy with the results. What intrigues me about this poem is that you incorporated the Gray story with the story of agri-business and politics are corrupting the foid supply. That almost has biblical connotations stated that way. Your work is really tight here, and you get in a lot in such short space. That's a tribute to your focused poetic vision as well as your craft.

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  8. A really tough form, flawlessly executed. I love the gardening references, deep rich soil, moving to the horrors of the "greensick paper crop", then back to wildflowers.........a wonderful read and I so admire you for how you whupped that form!!!!!!!

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  9. The concept of Dorian Gray's flowers is amazing, and the poem is superbly written. I love "pirouette and bleed."

    Reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode, A Stop at Willoughby.

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  10. Ah - so you've turned Dorian Grey on his depicted head. Very clever. They are perhaps Wilde flowers! (I'm sorry if that was obvious!) (Can't help myself.)

    You use the form beautifully, sort of like a seed pod. Terrible to think of what is happening to the natural world on all levels, and how we hide it with out Dorian poster images.

    On completely separate note, I once saw this wonderful performance of De Profundis - it was a show of Oscar Wilde's last letter written from prison, or just out. Quite amazing. I don't quite know why I bring it up, because of the Wilde, I guess, but also has this great betrayal through its lines. k.

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    1. Wilde flowers!!! karin--I'm spluttering...never caught that, though I've been using that tag for months before actually writing out this poem. (*groans quietly*) Wilde's life is a tragedy worth reading, as are most of his works. Thanks for mentioning this one, which I just read about and now need to read.

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  11. Tie dyed holy hell! Girl, how did you do this? Just incredible.

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  12. My interpretation of this would be the obligation to live freely, to try and escape from the prescribed norms and values- but actually how hard it can be to escape (can one ever?) but that just taking a bit back (your wild, or Wilde!, flower patch) is sometimes enough...beautiful form- looks hard...of course, you make it look so easy! Love the message within this...(or my message anyway!)

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  13. Are the flowers in the picture yours, Hedge? They're so pretty, in their free profusion.

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    1. Yes, that's 2010, summer, south side of the house.

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  14. 'where seeds fall as they will..' Nothing could be more natural, yet nothing is more 'unnatural' than the quintet form, in iams no less--but your work in putting it together has resulted in a seamless and flowing verse without, the usual sing-song. Not easy, I know, but this is a poem to be proud of. Nice work, Joy.

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  15. You made this incredibly difficult form sound free and easy, Ms. Hedge! I love the refs to Dorian Gray, one of my fav stories, and your flowers are just gorgeous!

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  16. Boy is this the truth: "Now dead machines and poison tend the seed, make food of sorts"

    Upon reading your title, I recognized the man's name from the movie. We just watched that a couple of weeks ago. It is a haunting cautionary tale about the dangers of living for self and selling your soul to the dark side. Clever twist of paint, Hedge.

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  17. Gorgeous write...and these ending lines are great...where all deeds past with beauty interlace,
    where top is bottom and the bottom’s top.

    Happy Sunday :)

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  18. Gorgeous photo, Joy, and gorgeous use of the most difficult part of the prompt. You rock.
    K

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  19. You seriously ruled this, Hedge!! This is densely packed with such rich words and the form flowed super smoothly! Great one!

    The richest harvest always comes they say
    from blackest earth deeptilled in hard worked fields.

    Love this!

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  20. Your efforts with this are obvious in its effectiveness and inviisible in the easy grace with which it flows. It's a sad commentary that so much of it is all about greed. Tomatoes that taste like nothing. Fruit shiipped hard as a rock to avoid bruising. Food of sorts indeed. I'm all for horticultural anarchy.

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  21. you've got a killer concept here, form or not, and some lines that will stay with me as I head off for bed. In particular:

    The soil sprouts up a greensick paper crop;
    where lawless gamblers rule mad killing thrives
    while dutiful puppets pirouette and bleed.

    I do indeed also love love that your narrator combats dystopia with flowers. Oscar Wilde would definitely approve. Viva la

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  22. A poem stunning in its concept, form and realisation, a perfect whole. Thank you.

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  23. I would have added "garden of earthly delights" to the tag list, because this garden-poem cleanly accounts for what gardens are for -- in the heart, anyway, in the art. Like just about everything else, planting and harvest have become part of the corporate right to steal, which in farming always short -shrifts everyone in the cycle except stockholders, poor plants included, leeching away all the nutrients, rendering food that is marketed as wholesome and yet offers no food. Thank the godless that there are places where flowers grow to no corporate purpose -- wildflowers, poems: where what we wouldn't think is exactly the way it is at all. I liked the descriptions of the good that have no purpose than those purposeful entities who rule the top -- maybe its because that they don't deserve even the time spent in our scorn. We still have slave labor in Florida -- they work the tomato farms, and the grocery chains all quietly support it, since a cheap tomato, even though the wind has more taste, is a thing of marketplace wonder. - Brendan

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  24. Yes you do turn things upside down, and never better than in this poem. I love how brownfields are being turned into fruitful urban plots, and I hope the practice will increase. Creating fruit from what has been abandoned, or worse, poisoned, is the best skill in these days. Well done.

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  25. Beautiful picture--I love flowers! And, a fantastic poem full of sad truth, but turning toward beauty at the end. Awesome!
    http://charleslmashburn.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/im-a-slow-learner/

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  26. Your garden is the place of dreams! Oh, how I would love to photograph it. I think your poem is amazing, especially for someone who claims to find iambic pentameter a "bear". I know my flow is off but I rhymed (almost) when I was supposed to. Dorian Gray is a particular character my son would LOVE to portray someday... and your use of him here was nothing short of ingenious!

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    1. I would love for you to be able to photograph it too,Margaret--I am a terrible photographer--I just take millions of shots till I finally get one I can stand. Thanks for your kind words, and I think Dorian Gray would be a fascinating role to play, also.

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