japonisme: the unknown czeschka

06 December 2007

the unknown czeschka


When the world turns completely upside down

You say we'll emigrate to the Eastern Shore

Aboard a river-boat from Baltimore;

We'll live among wild peach trees, miles from town,

You'll wear a coonskin cap, and I a gown

Homespun, dyed butternut's dark gold colour.

Lost, like your lotus-eating ancestor,

We'll swim in milk and honey till we drown.

The winter will be short, the summer long,

The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,

Tasting of cider and of scuppernong;

All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all.

The squirrels in their silver fur will fall

Like falling leaves, like fruit, before your shot.


The au- tumn frosts will lie upon the grass

Like bloom on grapes of purple-brown and gold.

The misted early mornings will be cold;

The little puddles will be roofed with glass.

The sun, which burns from copper into brass,

Melts these at noon, and makes the boys unfold

Their knitted mufflers; full as they can hold

Fat pockets dribble chestnuts as they pass.

Peaches grow wild, and pigs can live in clover;

A barrel of salted herrings lasts a year;

The spring begins before the winter's over.

By February you may find the skins

Of garter snakes and water moccasins

Dwindled and harsh, dead-white and cloudy-clear.


When April pours the colours of a shell

Upon the hills, when every little creek

Is shot with silver from the Chesapeake

In shoals new-minted by the ocean swell,

When strawberries go begging, and the sleek

Blue plums lie open to the blackbird's beak,

We shall live well -- we shall live very well.

The months between the cherries and the peaches

Are brimming cornucopias which spill

Fruits red and purple, sombre-bloomed and black;

Then, down rich fields and frosty river beaches

We'll trample bright persimmons, while you kill

Bronze partridge, speckled quail, and canvasback.


Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones

There's something in this richness that I hate.

I love the look, austere, immaculate,

Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.

There's something in my very blood that owns

Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,

A thread of water, churned to milky spate

Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.

I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,

Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves;

That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath,

Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,

Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,

And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.

Elinor Wylie

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Blogger Princess Haiku said...

This poem is beautifully presented; it's words colorful, opulent and austere at the same time. I confess to being unfamiliar with this author. Nicely done, Lotus.

07 December, 2007 22:35  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thanks princess. i found the poem beautiful yet intriguing. i knew her name, but hadn't read anything probably since high school!

08 December, 2007 11:57  
Anonymous murasaki said...

oh how I love this :

The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and of scuppernong;
All seasons sweet, but autumn best of all.
The squirrels in their silver fur will fall
Like falling leaves, like fruit, before your shot.

and I had to look up the word "scuppernong" (it sounds so strange for me) and so I came across the same quotation in wikipedia :-) thank you.

08 December, 2007 14:35  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh how funny murasaki--now that you mention it, i realize that if i had had to define it i would have been wrong! you hear something peripherally long enough, you kind of fit a definition to it that only sometimes do you find out if it's the right one.

i think one thing this poem speaks to me of, back many years ago, my 20 year old cat died. i was so distraught that when i went out for milk the next day, i couldn't go home, so i called a friend in denver and asked if i could come visit.

it was april which is well into spring here in berkeley, but in the short time i was in denver it snowed, and i realized that had been just what i needed: to go to ground, to go through a white death in order for the colors to return.

08 December, 2007 19:13  
Blogger Princess Haiku said...

My last cat was named, Undine Little Darling and she was never a lap cat although she loved me. Except for the last few hours of her life when she got up on my lap voluntarily and head butted me to say good-by. She was a Persian Cat I had rescued and after her I stopped doing that because they often die by ten years of age of kidney failure. I may get a little dog some day; you never know. One never wants to close ones heart to love.

08 December, 2007 23:33  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

that is so true

10 December, 2007 11:48  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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