japonisme: the unknown czeschka

06 December 2007

the unknown czeschka

WILD PEACHES

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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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6 Comments:

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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