(Poem #1078) Water Lilies
If you have forgotten water lilies floating On a dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade, If you have forgotten their wet, sleepy fragrance, Then you can return and not be afraid. But if you remember, then turn away forever To the plains and the prairies where pools are far apart, There you will not come at dusk on closing water lilies, And the shadow of mountains will not fall on your heart.
Today's poem addresses one of my favourite themes - that of the longing, not for a place, but for a particular *kind* of place. Sea poems are perhaps the most popular examples of the genre, but practically every form of terrain from the teeming metropolis to the forest primeval has its 'poetic' aspects, and most have been immortalised in at least one good poem. 'Water Lilies' is definitely one of the good poems. Teasdale's quiet, understated style fits her subject beautifully - the "dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade" is a perfectly self-contained image that draws the reader into an almost enchanted scene, and makes the last line not just plausible but believable. Links: There's a biography of Teasdale at Poem #113 A random sampling of poems along the same lines: Poem #3, Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Inversnaid" Poem #29, Rudyard Kipling, "The Sea and the Hills" Poem #317, Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Inland" Poem #510, Lord Byron, "There is a pleasure in the pathless woods" And on a somewhat related note: Poem #238, W. J. Turner, "Romance" -martin