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Naming the Stars -- Joyce Sutphen

Guest poem submitted by Todd:
(Poem #523) Naming the Stars
 This present tragedy will eventually
 turn into myth, and in the mist
 of that later telling the bell tolling
 now will be a symbol, or, at least,
 a sign of something long since lost.

 This will be another one of those
 loose changes, the rearrangement of
 hearts, just parts of old lives
 patched together, gathered into
 a dim constellation, small consolation.

 Look, we will say, you can almost see
 the outline there: her fingertips
 touching his, the faint fusion
 of two bodies breaking into light.
-- Joyce Sutphen
Here is a poem I read on _Poetry Daily_ (www.poems.com) not long ago. I know
nothing about the author, except that her poem was published first in the July
2000 issue of _Poetry_ (i.e., before its appearance on _Poetry Daily_).

I like the way the poet has managed to link words together in a way that is
suggestive of the linkage of stars in a constellation.  When we look at a
constellation we "can almost see/the outline there."  That is, we make the
connections between one star and another -- with our memories and imaginations
-- and find the image that is latent in the pattern. There is a "faint fusion"
that results in a kind of revelation -- a revelation that perhaps comes from
some deep place within ourselves.

The poet accomplishes this through a skillful use of internal rhyme, assonance
and alliteration.  To cite one line, "a sign of something long since lost" is
beautifully rendered; to my ear it is the perfect expression of the poet's
idea.

When we look at the stars and discern the outline of mythical figures we trace
the dim shape of human history, made up of countless "parts of old lives/patched
together."

Todd.

5 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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