Tuesday, March 1, 2022

On The Bright Turning Page


On The Bright Turning Page
 (A sonnet)

On the bright turning page of spring's uproar
when the ferry sailed from day to dreadful night
with one upon the deck, one left on shore,
an annotation jotted down in stricken twilight,
I heard the winter laugh like truculent swans,
as white lilies bobbed their lovely idiot heads;
I saw a volume could be made of broken bonds,
the long ballad of peace sent hungry to its bed.
The bear brings ash upon its ailing breath
when fire flies from frightened children's hands.
When two forces clash in a quarrel to the death
no stone, no garden wall or house can stand;
but awash in azure sky, flowers of the sun
grow wild beneath the smell of smoke and guns.
 March, 2022

 posted  in solidarity with Ukraine
for Shay's Word List #15:
 Note: many of Millay's poems are sonnets, and she often used the first line as her title. I've borrowed that stylistic aspect here.
Images: Lilies, © Constantin Artachino     Fair Use
Sunflower, 1965 © Georgia O'Keefe           Fair Use


  1. It's a genuine horror what's going on, in terms of blood and anguish, and in terms of moral bankruptcy on the part of Putin. Imagine one man causing all this just to satisfy his own ego and lust for power. They say that evil contains the seed of its own destruction; I am hoping that's true here.

    I would not have thought this would be a good subject for poetry, averse as I am to writing topical poems myself, but you have done justice here to both the form, the phrasing and the subject. Helen thought mine was on this subject, but it isn't at all. Anyway, 7-10 particularly pleased my poetic ear, Joy. This cannot have been easy to compose, but the result is every bit up to the subject and the poetry. I admire it.

    1. LINES 7-10. My fingers lagged behind my brain.

    2. And why I love reading / writing poetry … free to let my reactions / thoughts / imagination run in multiple directions.

    3. Thank you, ladies. It is indeed a difficult subject, but poetry shouldn't flinch or pick and choose, and sometimes you have to write even if you know you can't really do the subject justice.

  2. Amazing poem Joy … sonnet form, topic .. in solidarity, yes.

  3. Joy, this brings our current reality home to the heart. Winter laughing like swans, flowers in the midst of bombs, peace going hungry to its bed......your amazing closing couplet.......life, beauty and horror mixed. Just beautiful writing.

  4. Wow, damn! You layered the words in effortlessly, in rhyme, and brings us to the folly of the world, even allusions to the bear. I loved this most of all though: "I heard the winter laugh like truculent swans" - that is amazing.

  5. ". . . the long ballad of peace sent hungry to its bed" sent me straight to Ukraine. It has my vote for likeable sonnets. Your rhyme was delicious being very well fitting.
    Been there in 2113, all was pretty in modern and olden and historical days gone by
    Good Job!!


  6. Each line resonant, no words or rhymes superfluous. This shares the company of the very best sonnets (and poems) I have ever read.

    And timeless. Of course, this is our curse, that ego runs thru all times. ego. war. men. such a focus on 4-letter words, when the 3-letter ones knell as deeply. ~

    1. Thanks, M. Your own poem on this subject was striking and eloquent.

  7. Joy, there's something so intense for me about how you put those last two lines separately and started with a lower case 'but'... it works magnificently.

    -David [ben Alexander]

    1. Thanks. That form is part of the normal Italian sonnet, but I borrowed it for my English one.

  8. I am in awe of this delicate yet powerful poem Joy! Each line opens eyes and hearts in a way only an amazing poet could do! Today I wore blue and yellow in honor of Ukraine today. It is heartbreaking and as Shay said, a genuine horror what is happening right now.

  9. Spring is the vicious season, it does the nasty with such a glorious smile ... I loved the languid stroll of this into nightmare territory, connections broken, fires burning, ash on ailing bear's breath. Who needs know more when deadly quarrels produce such lusty blossoms? How else do we get through the blitzfire of the mind to come. A vatic soak in a blistering sitzbath.

  10. This is so moving and beautiful, Joy. So many evocative lines. To me, it speaks of how the ugly truth of something can never be justified with explanations, however eloquent or well-meaning. And of course, the horrors we see unfolding in the world as we speak. The pretty lilies with their lovely idiot heads will still do what lilies do, whilst the innocent are displaced, and how haunting and alien a beautiful spring must be to someone who has lost everything, has been torn from their home. So many good lines, my favourites:

    "On the bright turning page of spring's uproar"

    "I heard the winter laugh like truculent swans
    as white lilies bobbed their lovely idiot heads"

    "...flowers of the sun
    grow wild beneath the smell of smoke and guns"



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

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