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Wash of Cold River -- H D

(Poem #893) Wash of Cold River
 Wash of cold river
 in a glacial land,
 Ionian water,
 chill, snow-ribbed sand,
 drift of rare flowers,
 clear, with delicate shell-
 like leaf enclosing
 frozen lily-leaf,
 camellia texture,
 older than a rose;

 that keeps the breath
 of the north-wind --
 these and none other;

 intimate thoughts and kind
 reach out to share
 the treasure of my mind,
 intimate hands and dear
 drawn garden-ward and sea-ward
 all the sheer rapture
 that I would take
 to mould a clear
 and frigid statue;

 rare, of pure texture,
 beautiful space and line,
 marble to grace
 your inaccessible shrine.
-- H D

Ionian: the Ionian Sea, an extension of the Mediterranean between Italy and
camellia: ornamental shrub with shiny leaves and bright flowers.

Today's poem is, even for HD, an unusually beautiful one. The delicate,
crystalline images create an impression that is *clean* in every sense of
the word - pure, elegant, uncluttered, and, as the poet suggests,
fundamentally cold and lifeless - 'marble to grace your inaccessible shrine'.

The choice of imagery is interesting - the pellucid tones of wind and water
play against the living tints of camellia and rose, but the overall
impression is one of colourlessness. Looking closer, this is deliberate -
'camellia texture' draws attention away from its visual properties; 'older
than a rose' evokes images of pale, faded petals, so that, ultimately, the
impression is of colour being not merely absent but actually drained from a
scene in which it might otherwise have been expected.

Again, there is an overwhelming impression of *silence* - sound, like
colour, is an attribute of life, and one that has likewise been drained from
the scene, though more subtly. What is left is a vision of rare but frigid
beauty, almost dreamlike in its ethereal remoteness, and capturing perfectly
the twin attributes of attractiveness and inaccessibility.


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