(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; wind-flower 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.
Notes: Ionian: the Ionian Sea, an extension of the Mediterranean between Italy and Greece. camellia: ornamental shrub with shiny leaves and bright flowers. -- http://www.library.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/poems/hd7.html 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. -martin