Lenten Poetry Challenge
Sunday Lent Poem 40 17th
Sadness of a Star
Minerva stepped out calmly from my head
And I will be forever crowned with blood
There is reason within and sky above my skull
Where Goddess you were buckling on your arms
Of my misfortunes this is not the worst
This almost mortal wound became a star
The secret sorrow which is my despair
Is more than any other soul could hide
I bear with me a suffering of fire
Just as a glow-worm bears his body’s flame
As in a soldier’s heart France is on fire
Just as rich pollen fills the lily’s heart
Un belle Minerve est l’enfant de ma tête
Une étoile de sang me couronne à jamais
La raison est au fond et le ciel est au faîte
Du chef où dès longtemps Déesse tu t’armais
C’est pourquoi de mes maux ce n’était pas le pire
Ce trou presque mortel et qui s’est étoilé
Mais le secret malheur qui nourrit mon délire
Est bien plus grand qu’aucune âme ait jamais celé
Et je porte moi cette ardente souffrance
Comme le ver luisant tient son corps enflammé
Comme au coeur du soldat il palpite la France
Et comme au coeur du lys le pollen parfumé
Saturday Lent Poem 39
Love in a Life
Room after room,
I hunt the house through
We inhabit together.
Heart, fear nothing, for, heart, thou shalt find her—
Next time, herself!—not the trouble behind her
Left in the curtain, the couch’s perfume!
As she brushed it, the cornice-wreath blossomed anew;
Yon looking-glass gleamed at the wave of her feather.
Yet as the day wears,
And door succeeds door;
I try the fresh fortune—
Range the wide house from the wing to the centre.
Still the same chance! she goes out as I enter.
Spend my whole day in the quest,—who cares?
But ‘tis twilight, you see,—with such suites to explore,
Such closets to search, such alcoves to importune!
Friday Lent Poem 38
I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist.
Trustees exclaimed, “He never bungles!”
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later
Been eaten by an alligator.
Profesor Twist could not but smile.
“You mean,” he said, “a crocodile.”
Thursday Lent Poem 37
The Frog Song
Stevie Smith 1966
Stevie Smith 1966
I am a frog
I live under a spell
I live at the bottom
Of a green well
And here I must wait
Until a maiden places me
On her royal pillow
And kisses me
In her father’s palace
The story is familiar
Everybody knows it well
But do other enchanted people feel as nervous
As I do? The stories do not tell,
Ask if they will be happier
When the changes come
As already they are fairly happy
In a frog’s doom?
I have been a frog now
For a hundred years
And in all this time
I have not shed many tears,
I am happy, I like the life,
Can swim for many a mile
(When I have hopped to the river)
And am for ever agile.
And the quietness,
Yes, I like to be quiet
I am habituated
To a quiet life,
But always when I think these thoughts
As I sit in my well
Another thought comes to me and says:
It is part of the spell
To be happy
To work up contentment
To make much of being a frog
To fear disenchantment
Says, It will be heavenly
To be so free,
Cries Heavenly the girl who disenchants
And the royal times, heavenly,
And I think it will be.
Come then, royal girl and royal times,
I can be happy until you come
But I cannot be heavenly,
Only disenchanted people
Can be heavenly.
Wednesday Lent Poem 36
The Siren Song
Margaret Atwood 1965-1975
Margaret Atwood 1965-1975
This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:
the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see beached skulls
the song nobody knows
because anyone who had heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.
I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song
is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique
at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.
A huge fan of her novels – particularly The Robber Bride, Cat’s Eye and Alias Grace – this was my first Margaret Atwood poem. I love the simplicity of the language, and the unexpected bite at the conclusion!