Thursday, April 10, 2014

By the Pools of Mnemosyne



By The Pools of Mnemosyne





Somewhere after the first sip,
in your fingers falling across the harp,
I found tangled the smell of rain
on dying earth.

Somewhere in the night air
of your whisper-scent
grass bent and shivered
as I, my love, so bent,
a ripple in larger tremblings
small in the vast, there
beside the pools of Memory,
washed away, tumbled in the flood
of all that had been and yet couldn't be.

Once in the labyrinth you were my string,
another tangle, a sharp discord
that broke and left me wandering, 
where each curve was made to return to me
what I left behind in the fragrant rain,
too wild to know, too wayward to see
I'd beg to find Lethe across every plane.



~April 2014





Process Notes: Mnemosyne (from which we get the word mnemonic) was the Greek goddess of memory., and the mother of the nine muses. She also had a pool in Hades that was the mirror-image of the river Lethe, where instead of being granted forgetfulness after drinking from it, the dead remembered everything from their past lives.







posted for      real toads
Challenge: The Art of Odilon Redon
I have the helm at the pond today for our Poems-in-April-fest, and I chose an ekphrasis challenge, to be drawn from the work of French painter, lithographer, pastelist and illustrator, Odilon Redon. For details, and to join us, please check out the real toads link above. Is it May yet???



Images: The Reflection, and Head On A Stem, by Odilon Redon
Public domain, via wikipaintings.org.

26 comments:

  1. way early, or late here but I had to stop by to take something to bed with me. The entire ambiance is excellent, but: 'Once in the labyrinth you were my string' is my night time line of choice. as ever Hedge, your work is a total pleasure. best

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    1. Thank you Arron--I appreciate your words much--and I miss your poetry.

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  2. Yes, excellent response to the challenge, it has the watercolor bluey wash of the lead image and sees it with an empathy for both sides -- the pool in which the living forget their woes and the shadowy figure who yearns to remember what death has erased. It's right there at that shore, on that tiny narrow span from foot to water, that we find "all that had been yet could couldn't be." The image becomes a trope for the function of poetic yearning, where its possible to dream and even die to return the lost to the living. At least in the noir hour of the writing ... Fine work, Hedge, and a great challenge. Would love to join in but I'm busy elsewhere, enrapt in uselessly deep waters. My Salamasis sez hey girl to Mnemosyne.

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    1. No problems, Brendan. Not every challenge speaks to us., and as you say, there is other work. I looked up Salamacis--quite an interesting(and scary) figure.Thanks for reading.

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  3. Wonderful response, perfect for Redon, especially ripe with symbols and myth. I'll have to digest this further. Off to the real world right now.

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  4. the mind vaguely wishes for all that wild, magical days to be
    reflected/renewed in Lethe...the deep yearning for Lethe makes the poem all the more poignant..."all that had been and yet couldn't be."...this is so true...

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  5. Had it been Mnemosyne and not Ariadne who tossed me the thread, I might never have made it out of the maze alive or dead. Excellent maze! How lost, how without end.

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  6. that last stanza in particular...in the maze the discords all leading back to you...the verse is very fluid through there for me...nice hit with mnemosyne as well....

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  7. I don't know what to say... This is truly beautiful! It quite literally took my breath away from the end of the first stanza onwards (good thing it wasn't longer! ;))... Anyway, thank you for a great prompt - and for a great poem!

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  8. So, where do the rules say that a real poem has to be written every day of the month? I myself have been focusing on the silly side of things--I just can't seem to get above it at the moment.

    Okay to this poem--first--I love Redon--mainly the psychedelic color, although I have to say that the monochromatic image at the bottom--I'm guessing, a lithograph--is also pretty psychedelic.

    And I'm not mentioning commas am I? (I hope you are laughing.) I do have one place I'd add one and one I'd take away one, but I will keep to myself.

    And now to the poem. It really does capture this terrible thing about re-captured memory - that maybe there was a reason for its suppression. And then, re-called, there is (I) the impossibility of it being real for self-protective reasons, and (ii) the genuine doubt that it is real since the fact is memory is such a fluid and suggestive thing--although here, the implication is that it is real. The sense of earth shuddering, the natural bending, is so strong here-- and the sense of underworld--the unearthed--I can't help thinking of grass as in the biblical and Whitman sense of grass being flesh, and also what covers up death and darkness--and I especially like the way the harp strings (grass harp) move to become the kind Ariadne thread--was it Ariadne--I don't know--but the tangled string which leads you through a labyrinth you would rather not get through--returning to epiphanies that are unwanted--a great last line there--plane a wonderful word used in that sense as surface and layer--anyway--this is an issue I have long struggled with, in fact, although I am fairly convinced that especially as a writer, one can give so much life to imagination, it feels like memory--(I am not implying that that is happening here)--but it is an interesting subject generally.

    Works especially well for Redon, since he particularly has that kind of blurriness punctuated by suddenly sharp images or color, and has that same beauty. k. (Sorry to be typically disjointed--I must get back to work.)


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    1. Thanks, k. I am not very happy with this one--I had to cut a great deal of it,and to me it feels disjointed, but as you say, in a way that suits the artist's style. I also agonized over the commas, and I think there are way too many, but I had reached that stage of exhaustion with the material where I knew I had to just stop or put it away for another time--and April isn't very forgiving about that part. ;_) Don;t worry if the prompt doesn't produce anything--I completely understand.--I know some people find visual prompts very difficult--as I find music prompts--can't usually write a thing to 'em. Have a good week--we had earthquakes again all night, some quite strong--getting old, and hard to sleep through.

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  9. "Somewhere in the night air
    of your whisper-scent
    grass bent and shivered"

    That stole my breath. The entire mood you've created with this is like warm rain. Just gorgeous.

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  10. You had me at the title.

    ;-)

    This whole piece is so well-realized, but I found the second stanza to be particularly affecting. I shall return to this later in the week because I'm sure I have not quite grasped all you have conveyed with my head still a little fuzzy.

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  11. I also like the labyrinth line - very effective.

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  12. Wonderful write and note. How interesting that the dead remembered everything from their past lives.

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  13. I like the first stanza best. It's a great start, and almost stands on its own. The last stanza reflects, for me, the great difficulty of imagining what it would be like to recover memories, strand by strand. It makes sense to me that the pool was in Hades; it sounds like a recipe for madness.

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  14. Forgetting can be a gift at my age. Thanks for the prompt and the info on this wonderful artist.

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  15. Ooo...this is vivid and leaves one feeling as though they've just awoken from a deep twisted with meaning dream...lovely...

    "Once in the labyrinth you were my string,
    another tangle, a sharp discord
    that broke and left me wandering, "

    That's my favorite favorite and the entirety is excellent, Hedge.

    Thank you for this challenge...I enjoyed it very much! :)

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  16. Goodness, this is amazing....I must agree "once in the Labyrinth you were my string" s also captures me. I make my small reach for words and I wish I had your depth.

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  17. I love the pools of memory. Such a way around words you have, like a wend amoung the boulders that lined my road to Grandma's house.

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  18. Wow - you outta be a writer! I particularly the final stanza. I kinda have a thing for labyrinths.... and love the "you were my string."

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  19. This poem floats like the vibrations from a harp. Believe it or not, I once grocery shopped in a high-end store (I loved their meat dept) and they hired a harpist to play at certain times. It is the only time I have been that close to a harp being played (the symphony orchestra seats we have are far from the stage) and the whole second part of your second stanza portray exactly what it was like… Just beautiful.

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  20. This reads like memory and mirror. I love the pulsing sensuality. fingers flowing, grass bent, tumbled in the flood. Imagine remembering everything from past lives... the thought is boggling!

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  21. " Once in the labyrinth you were my string,
    another tangle, a sharp discord
    that broke and left me wandering,
    where each curve was made to return to me
    what I left behind in the fragrant rain,
    too wild to know, too wayward to see"

    I really love that. Forgive me for quoting back so much, here.

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  22. this reminds me of some bygone age, an air from the days before cars. perhaps its the classical subject, or the allegory of Lethe - and yes, I agree with the voice in the final stanza ~

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  23. Stunning work specially the last stanza ~ Thank you for the lovely challenge HW ~ I'm late but the artwork was just captivating ~

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