Sunday, April 1, 2012

Off the Shelf Archive~March

The month has flown by, and it's now April, so more than time for a change on the Off the Shelf Page. With the death of Adrienne Rich this past week, it's occurred to me how seldom I've featured female poets as a monthly selection, so this time I'm going for some short poems by Emily Dickinson. I often feel that Dickinson did better in her own style what so many contemporary writers try to do with their westernized haiku. She knew how to express depth,layers, nuances, all sorts of complexities, with a minimal amount of words that never  feels skimped.

These poems have been archived for the month of April, here on the

while the March selection, Ghazal of Unforeseen Love, by Federico Garcia Lorca, appears below:


Ghazel of Unforeseen Love

No one could percieve the perfume
of the dark magnolia of your womb
No one knew you made martyr
a hummingbird of love between your teeth.

A thousand persian ponies were falling asleep
in the plaza with the moonlight from your forehead,
while I held fast for four nights
around your waist, enemy of snows.

Between chalk and jasmines, your look
was a pale branch of seed.
I searched, to give you, through my breast
the letters of ivory that say always,

always,always, garden of my agony,
your body fleeing forever,
the blood of your veins in my mouth,
your mouth now without light for my death.

by Federico Garcia Lorca

from  Divan del Tamarit, 1936

Photo: Magnolia soulangiana 'Jane', by joy ann jones
© joy ann jones 2010


  1. Your magnolia is magnificent, and this poem is just sumptuous reading for me, on a cold Autumn morning.

  2. We share a love for Lorca and N. triandus "Thalia".
    Can't get enough of those dainty pristine little dafflike things, and I am re-discovering Lorca's poems, so way ahead of his time.
    I've never read it in translation: a new delight.

  3. def love hte grit and unexpected quick twist of phrase in this....nice one made martyr
    a hummingbird of love between your teeth....nice, like that line...

  4. Ahh...thank you for sharing these--I mean both Lorca and Dickinson ("Wild Nights" is one of my favorites, too). So different, and so sumptuous.

  5. I agree with you about haiku and Emily Dickinson.
    Thanks for all you have posted.

  6. Magnolias are so magnificent. I was reading some Dickinson today. I always loved her, "My Life Closed Twice". You're right - her work is so layered and nuanced, hedgewitch. Saying so much with so few (but perfectly chosen) words.

  7. I love Lorca, and have you to thank for introducing me to him, a while back. When I need inspiration, I often read some of his work to get my creative mind into that space.

    The three Emily poems you have chosen are marvelous choices. To me, the first two speak to how wrong the common perception of her as a quiet recluse is. Her "revery" could take her any place, of bees were few, and the second poem shows the passionate redhead she was, under full sail. Knowing her circumstances, and who it was she loved, make this middle poem all the more fascinating and heartbreaking, because she will never get her wild nights. The last one, to me, is the best of the three, distilling--as you have pointed out--a great deal of human truth into a few short lines. Our hopes and our expectations change over time, don't they, and with experience and wear, grow smaller, humbler, and ever more resigned. Her calling God an "Inquistor" is telling.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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