Monday, January 23, 2006

power of image

I find myself this morning thinking about the power of image in poetry. The things which last long after the poem ends, even years later when you cannot remember how it begins but somehow that image is still with you.

The last time I was home, my aunt told me I wrote a horrible poem which by the way, is a horrendous way to begin any conversation. She said that the poem I wrote about being a little girl in my father’s meat market, holding the bucket while he butchered the animals, always was with her. She said, every time she sees a steak, she is horrified.

Though it should be noted here, my Aunt Jan is a little wacked the fact is, opposing images have power. Marie Howe does this beautifully with a poem about her brother, how all his life he is afraid of losing his sight, how he points all the silver ware in the opposite direction, and you can see a little boy doing this, in your mind’s eye, you understand. Then there is this brilliant line “how it find us, the one thing we fear” and you are left with the image of a man in a doctor’s chair, having a needle placed in his eye.

I may not remember my name at 83 but I know I will always remember this line because that’s how powerful internal word is. It has the ability to build us up and place us in another body, to weave in and out of own similarities.

What are your images? What lines in poetry do you carry and what are the steaks you will not buy?

14 comments:

Radish King said...
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SarahJane said...

beautiful question...

Lorca's sleep of apples
cummings' moon-balloon
olds' miscarriage in the toilet
Jimenez's naked woman/in the dark corridors (whiteness)
franz wright's mushroom cloud of evening (child tasting alcohol)

off the top of my head
always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question

LKD said...

"The heart can think of no devotion
greater than being shore to the ocean--
holding the curve of one position,
counting an endless repetition."
(Frost, Devotion)

"A woman like that is not afraid to die.
I have been her kind."
(Sexton, Her Kind)

"Her bare feet seem to be saying: We have come so far, it is over."
Plath, Edge)

"Love should be put into action!"

and

"Love's the burning boy."
(Bishop, Chemin de Fer, Casibianca)

"Ah, when to the heart of man
was it ever less than a treason
to go with the drift of things,
to yield with a grace to reason
and bow and accept the end
of a love or a season."
(Frost, Reluctance)

Eduardo C. Corral said...

Miguel Hernandez.

He wrote: Oranges peeled to white rind are the ankles of dancing light.

This image is the reason I always slowly peel my oranges, so I can hold those ankles of light in my hands for a moment or two.

And Rebecca: the lines you quote are by Margaret Atwood.

early hours of sky said...

The skins of apples
and the peeler will marry; it's simply
a question of when.
Margot Schilpp

Listen: there was a goat's head hanging by ropes in a tree.
All night it hung there and sang. And those who heard it
Felt a hurt in their hearts and thought they were hearing
The song of a night bird.
Brigit Pegeen Kelly

You come flying, alone, in your solitude, alone with the dead, alone in eternity, shadowless, nameless, you come flying without sweets, or a mouth, or a thicket of roses, you come flying Neruda


Oh and I so off to read Jimenez and Miguel Hernandez. God, isn't poetry beautiful!

Anne said...

like amnesiacs

in a ward on fire, we must
find words
or burn.

[from "Artemis" by Olga Broumas]

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

Wonderful to read your thoughts here. Thank you. When I think of the power of imagery in poetry-- the two strongest voices in my head are Elizabeth Bishop and James Wright. Dickinson comes close. But those two overwhelm me.

Lyle Daggett said...

"It is still beautiful to feel the heart beat
But often the shadow seems more real than the body.
The samurai looks insignificant
Beside his armor of black dragon scales."
(Tomas Transtromer, translated by Robert Bly.)

"The long wind left
in the mouth a rare taste
of gall, mint and sweet-basil."
(Lorca, my own translation.)

"A thousand Persian ponies went to sleep
in the moonlit plaza of your forehead."
(Lorca, translated by W.S. Merwin)

"And the footsteps of early workers are building the streets to the river."
(Thomas McGrath)

"And in the hands
dough pulls back from itself,
beginning to glisten,
taking shape in the act of resistance."
(Jenne Andrews)

Radish King said...
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Radish King said...
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Anonymous said...

and not glisten like a leopard’s dappled coat
and not from every edge of self explode
as stars do, or crouched beasts. There’s not one spot
that doesn’t see you. You must change your life.

Rilke, Archaic Torso

LKD said...
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