Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Off The Shelf Archives ~ March

'All the best red flowers have black at the heart.' ~joyannjones (c)

There's no excuse for the archivist this time. I have simply been AWOL. But I'm here now, at least for the moment, to change out the dusty offering from months ago and replace it with another selection.

Lately, as one does when other, newer inspirations desert one, I've fallen back on the perennial favorites, like Lorca, in the last selection, and for this time, the poetry of Wallace Stevens. Over the years, I've found his work a rich mine of ideas and a never-failing, jaw-dropping source of linguistic mastery, and every re-reading yields a stronger appreciation.

So, this month's selection will be Connoisseur of Chaos, by Wallace Stevens, and you can find it here on the Off The Shelf Page.

Note to Readers: I will be taking a short breather and posting a little less frequently between now and next month, attempting to marshal my mental juices for April, National Poetry Month, when I habitually attempt to write a poem a day. This year, the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads will be offering support with daily challenges to all of us who engage in this effort, so hope to see you there.


And now without further babble, here is the last selection for a final perusal before it goes to gather dust permanently in the archives, Qasida of The Woman Prone, by Federico Gracia Lorca:

Qasida of the Woman Prone

To see you naked is to remember the Earth,
the smooth Earth, clean of horses,
the Earth without a reed, pure form
closed to the future: a confine of silver.

To see you naked is to understand the desire
of rain that searches for the delicate waist,
or the fever of the broad-faced sea
that cannot find the light of its cheek.

Blood will ring through the bedrooms
and will come with flashing swords,
but you will not know where the heart of the toad
or the violet has hidden.

Your womb is a struggle of roots.
Your lips are a dawn without contour.
Under the lukewarm roses of the bed,
the dead  moan waiting their turn.

~Federico Garcia Lorca

I have  changed or rearranged a few words and a bit of punctuation here and there  because I didn't agree with the translation in my book. The original poem is written in form, and I'm sure that's why to me some of the meaning was altered to fit it in English--I'd rather have the meaning. For those who can read it and would like to do their own interpreting, here is the original Spanish:

Casida IV
De la mujer tendida

Verte desnuda es recordar la Tierra,
la Tierra lisa, limpia de caballos.
La Tierra sin un junco, forma pura
cerrada al porvenir: confin de plata.

Verte desnuda es comprender el ansia
de la lluvia que busco debil talle.
o la fiebre del mar de immenso rostro
sin encontrar la luz de su mejilla.

La sangre sonará por los alcobas
y vendrá con espadas fulgurantes
pero tú no sabrás dónde se ocultan
el corazón de sapo o la violeta.

Tu vientre es una lucha de raíces,
tus labios son an alba sin contorno.
Bajo las rosas tibias de la cama
los muertos gimen esperando turno.

~Federico Garcia Lorca

Image: Black Magic, 1934, by Rene Magritte 
No copyright infringement is intended.


  1. I love the Lorca. Wallace Stevens can be challenging reading. His pieces don't seem to have any middle ground with me; I either love it or hate.

    1. Yes,Stevens is often quite the challenge for anyone, I would think--he's always stirring the pot, and can be very irritating to me too at times, as he forces me to think, to intellectually grapple with the big things, and I am mentally extremely lazy. Then too, he can seem like a poseur, though I am prone to believe he just liked wearing that hat to make things even more difficult. He is generally not very lyric, either, which can be off-putting.

  2. nice....wallace stevens is one that i have enjoyed of late...since i only began reading poetry like 5 years ago i continue to discover people that many know of already...ha....
    best of luck on the poem a day...been a few years since i did it...and its brutal...lol...

    1. Brian there are very few days when you don;t produce something for us to read--maybe it's the having to that bugs you. ;_)

    2. Brian! You do a poem a day all year long! K.

  3. What an amazing poem! His opening line is a great hook - and the hidden heart of the toad or violet is brilliant. Thanks, Joy. Rest up. April will be here soon! I am looking forward to it.

  4. ah. well, back into the cave I'll cringe, seeing the brighter lights in the canon like Lorca be-feeble my listless scratching. what a paean to love - then the twist. ~

    1. No need to feel be-feebled, M.--we all stand in the shadow of poets of that caliber. I wonder if that end twist is about mortality, of the personal sort, love's mortality, or the simple hyperbole Jagger employed in Start Me Up~ 'You'd make a dead man come.'

  5. Another reason for me to hate nano-neener-neener; you won't be writing as much this month!

    1. But you will get more than you can stand next month. ;_)


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

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