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Poems On / About ELEGY  10/6/2015 3:13:38 PM
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Speaking Of Love


As soon as we have spoken of it,
we are doomed to earn
the love we crave, and come to covet
that for which we yearn.
There are consequences to
the words we speak: take care
to hold your tongue, for billets-doux
are often hard to tear.
Expressing what can’t be explained
may be more foolish than
unleashing dogs that should be chained
if things don’t go to plan.

Inspired by some lines from a poem by Mary Jo Salter which James Longenbach quoted, reviewing her book “A Phone Call to the Future” (“Formalities: Mary Jo Salter’s elegant poetry can hide eviscerating question, ” NYT Book Review, March 9,2008) :
Salter’s latest collection, “A Phone Call to the Future, ” offers severely winnowed selections from her previous five books along with an ample collection of new poems. What she has omitted is as revealing as what remains. While her first book, “Henry Purcell in Japan, ” is introduced here with a poised villanelle about King Lear’s daughters, it once began with a poem far more suggestive of Salter’s sensibility — a sensibility repulsed by gory images of the dead Jesus in a Catholic church, preferring to dwell in an aesthetic realm of pure spirit: “His wounds look fresh, but it’s not this sight / that shocks me so much as His man-made skin: / He’s waxen, slick as a mannequin.” This poem, “For an Italian Cousin, ” is cast in envelope rhyme (abba) , the form that Tennyson, most elegant of English poets, employed in his long elegy “In Memoriam.” Reading the elegy, Verlaine said that Tennyson had a lot of reminiscences when he should have been brokenhearted. Salter’s elegance feels similarly motivated by a distaste for the unseemly. But what makes Salter worth reading — what makes her stand apart from the merely polemical elegance of the New Formalism — is that she herself is appalled by this distaste. While many of her poems are burdened by a need to dispense wisdom (“love dooms us to earn / love once we can speak of it”) , her best are driven by a compulsion to confront the inexplicable. Her second collection, “Unfinished Painting, ” includes “Elegies for Etsuko, ” a long poem about a friend who committed suicide.
And now love’s pain, your curse,
is all I have. Forgive me... What worse
punishment for suicide
than having died?
Here, the blunt rhyme between “suicide” and “died” makes the poem’s confrontation with mortality feel witheringly unavoidable. Rather than dispensing wisdom, Salter asks eviscerating questions.

gershon hepner

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Legends, Elegies, Pleasures And Norma Jean

The man who wrote Legends of the Fall
Wrote; 'Don't fall in love as if fallin' off a dock at night'
But when you are struck by the thunderbolt
How do you not fall?

The man who wrote the Duino Elegies
Wrote; 'Beauty is only the start of bearable terror'
But to be stuck without beauty
Is unbearable

The woman formerly know as Norma Jean
Wrote; 'I know from life one cannot love another'
I know what she meant, but to love you
How can I not?

The man who wrote The Pleasures of Hope
Wrote; 'How hard it is to find the one just suited to our mind! '
But it is just a little too easy to find one
Who is ill suited

From Legends, Elegies, Pleasures and Norma Jean
What they wrote is unforgettable
And that is what you are muse, though near or far
In every way
MacGregor Tagliaferro

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When you abandoned me,
I didn't need an elegy
because you had planted
a flight of butterflies in my heart
whose path I follow
like a bedouin who knows
how to perfectly trace the footsteps
of his traunt mare.
Fawziyya Abu Khalid

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The Three Poets

Candidia has taken a new lover
And three poets are gone into mourning.
The first has written a long elegy to 'Chloris',
To 'Chloris chaste and cold,' his 'only Chloris'.
The second has written a sonnet
upon the mutability of woman,
And the third writes an epigram to Candidia.
Ezra Pound

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Poems On / About ELEGY