Guest poem submitted by J. Goard:
(Poem #1847) Consolation for Tamar
(on the occasion of her breaking an ancient pot) You know I am no archeologist, Tamar, And that to me it is all one dust or another. Still, it must mean something to survive the weather Of the Ages-earthquake, flood, and war- Only to shatter in your very hands. Perhaps it was gravity, or maybe fated- Although I wonder if it had not waited Those years in drawers, aeons in distant lands, And in your fingers' music, just a little Was emboldened by your blood, and so forgot That it was not a rosebud, but a pot, And, trying to unfold for you, was brittle.
I've thought in the past about bringing a Stallings poem to the Minstrels, since I consider her among the best living (let alone young!) poets working primarily in formal verse. As it turns out, a blog entry concerning Frost's "The Road Not Taken" led me to think about "Consolation for Tamar", another poem which manages both a concise elegance and a great despairing depth. For me, this is a gutwrenching love poem, asking us to consider where value - really valuable value - might come from, how it might ever express itself, and how anyone might ever notice. The narrator is apparently a cynic, known to have expressed a disinterest in that which is precious to Tamar, and attempts a "consolation" for what, to her, feels like a profound loss. But it's a strange, bittersweet consolation: Tamar herself is special, special enough to make the eternal aspire to the ephemeral, consuming itself. As, presumably, does the narrator in the moment of the poem. I love how the initial hexameter lines (before it settles into pentameter in line 3) have an unwieldiness that reinforces the narrator's reputation as a jaded soul. I love how he (as I typically imagine it to be a man, a point I probably wouldn't even mention if the poet were male, alas) so casually passes over gravity and fate as explanations, as if divine providence and pure materialism were just two versions of the same uninspired worldview. I love the alliteration in "emboldened by your blood", and all of the internal rhyme and other intertwined elements of the final three lines. But mostly, I'm attracted by the central reflexive metaphor. The narrator becomes the pot, and the articulation of the poem becomes a shattering. His budding love for Tamar has made him (perhaps briefly) forget his natural cynicism; yet, in crafting a confession of love and a recognition of her specialness, he has also delivered her a dreadful idea about longing and loss. J. Goard. Poet's page: [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/aestallings/