VALEDICTION SPOKEN IN A MELANCHOLY TONE WHILE ALL ALONE AT SUNSET ON A GRASSY KNOLL IN THE PRESENCE OF SEVERAL QUAKING ASPEN TREES FORBIDDING MOURNING

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.
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So much I liked
what you appeared to be.

So much I came to love
the you I seemed to see.

So much for wishing, wanting
what I fancied to be true.

So much for you.
.
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VALEDICTION ….FORBIDDING MOURNING

86 responses »

      • Tee hee…the image fits, either way, though I’d bet Mason would prefer his “drab” because it resounds with “stab.” (Did I thank you for introducing me to the work of RAK Mason some time ago?) Whether a small poem is drab or lacklustre, it’s probably sharpness and thrust that counts, so “ouch!” is a good response.
        I have always been tempted to take a small grey poem and give it an elaborate title, the way some Asian—and even some English—poets have done in the past. So I did. Thank you for coming by and making your—as always– gratifyingly Brucian comment.

  1. I love the title and quoted that out loud, because it just begs to be declaimed! And then I got to the actual poem – which is kind of pithy and to the point really and makes me feel kind of sorry for someone…….

    • And here I thought you were not the sort to feel sorry for cads….But you’re right; the end of illusion is always sad all around….
      I hope your audible declamation was accompanied by suitable gestures, Pauline, as I’m having a great time picturing it!

        • And I am quaking with laughter at the revenge idea…though it’s my experience that the subjects who do inspire poems never recognize themselves.

          There actually is a tree called a Quaking Aspen, here in North America. I don’t think you have such a tree in New Zealand, but if you did, it would likely feel quite in tune with mother nature—at least on certain occasions!

  2. If I were to write a poem, the title would be longer than the thing itself. That would be a given.

    Then, instead of apologizing to John Donne, as if wanting to suppress in my mind some mischievous thought, I’d berate him soundly for stealing my ideas. So much for him, I’d think,

    • As usual, your superior wisdom has me thinking now…no need for an apology to John Donne. There are so many differences between his poem and mine…. who would notice my use of “a valediction” and “forbidding mourning”? After all, Donne’s title has but a semi-colon between those two phrases, and mine has a whole natural world of sunsets and trees and a grassy knoll to boot. Besides, his poem is about a love affair permanently joined as two legs of a drafting compass and mine is about telling someone to buzz off. Thank you for bringing me to my senses, as you so often do, Prospero… although I imagine that for someone of your august age (or is it septembral by now?) that’s just in a day’s work, a matter of noblesse oblige.

      • Oh, you mean John Donne the poet! I thought you were referring to J. Donne the investment banker.

        Come to think of it, what would a spongy financier know about valediction or punctuation for that matter?

        But insofar as having to tell someone to ‘buzz off,’ you have chosen such a scrumtrulescent mode of conveyance (in the archaic sense, as my banker, an expressive though somewhat effete fellow, is wont to use dated expressions which alas stick with you) that your harsh message may be somewhat blunted or lost in a prosodic cloud of rarefied beauty.

    • I did wonder if you meant sharp instead of shape. There is such a thing as a shape poem, but this isn’t one. Shape poem is an alternative description of what is known as concrete poetry which takes an actual visual shape on the page….like a poem about the heart being in the shape of a valentine heart, for instance. The shape is largely typographical and meant to support the meaning visually. Sometimes it’s calligraphy instead of typography that tries to enhance the meaning by shaping and combining letters in a certain way on the page…..like the “calligrammes” that were once quite popular in French Literature especially.

      As for shape notes ….you are reminding me of Sacred Harp, a unique choral music which I love…

      • Leave it to you, Cynthia, to know about shape poems! I have seen those, as you say, usually in calligraphy, but did not know they had a name! Or that there was concrete poetry (now concrete imagery, I know about). Keep on writing. I’m looking forward to the next one you give to us.

        • That’s lovely and encouraging for you to say, Lisa, thank you.

          You must be familiar with the American tradition of shape note singing (Sacred Harp), yes? I’ve read, and heard, there’s been a revival of it among young urban professionals, and wonder if there’s some of it going on in your neck of the woods…..

          • There was at one time, though I never participated in it. I did like the sound of it, though. There was a program called Traditions on one of the public radio stations and it played some of the music once in a while. But it’s not on any more as the station went all classical.

  3. I love this pithy memorable poem which says so much with so little. I’m sure that it was your intent that the title should jar with tis lengthy, all caps, importance but somehow I didn’t get it. Both title and poem say a lot; but the quiet and depth of the poem is what enchants me, I could even, heaven forbid, do without the title – I’m either a heretic or completely missing the point – probably the latter.

    • You are such a treasure, jane. Your finding the value here, in the poem itself, makes me very happy. I was wondering if anyone would see in such a simple, spare poem as much as I intended to be there. These deceptively simple ones are among the hardest to write.

      I’m thrilled that you say you could do without the title. Perhaps I was worried that such a poem was all too plain, when I decided to have a bit of fun with the title. Have you ever read some of the spare Japanese poems which are about three lines long but they have very lengthy titles telling where, when, how, why they were written? Even some English poets have indulged in ridiculously lengthy set-piece titles at times in the past. I was spoofing that practice. It was meant to be humorous.

      You have not missed the point, nor are you a heretic. You’re an excellent reader who knows how to confront a poem authentically and you often tell me something I had not thought about. As for this one, you and I are on the same page.

  4. One of my strongest talents is that I can believe, for decades, that a person actually owns the fabulous attributes that I have bestowed upon them via my mind. The older the relationship the funnier the last line becomes. It is hysterical, like some kind of mania, if one has known the person for more than 50 years because one so deeply needed or wanted them to be that person. If I were able to write as you do, I would have named this poem: LIES. The poem deserves a simple title; the last line is comedic enough.

    • I am glad you see what I see in the last line of the poem, Ginene. It looks simple enough….a play on the English idiom “so much for…” meaning “it’s all done,” or even “good riddance.” Yet, if you take it another way, not as that idiom but literally, it might include the meaning of “so much emotion/love invested in you…”
      Like you, I am one with a strong tendency to idealize other people…and so often become disillusioned. But I guess that’s better than being a cynic who starts off with a demeaning of others.
      The long title is a way of injecting a kind of humorous irony here…a self-mockery of the voice of the poem. LIES….might be the kind of summary title that would foreclose too many possibilities.
      I remember how my grandmother would not allow us children ever to call anyone a liar..”just say a person tells stories,” she would admonish. Somewhere along the line I guess I decided to substitute “illusions” for all the “lies” in and around me, because the ones who do it the most are usually doing it most to themselves.

  5. Exactly! If I didn’t know the author (slightly), and I cold-read the poem, I would think it is about the lies we tell ourselves. I really like this poem. Your grandmother was a good person. I never heard my mother’s mother ever say anything negative about anyone during my life. She was very good, too, brought up in an era and by a family who practiced etiquette and believed in the ninth commandment. But, between you and I, since the late 1960s, I call a lie, a flat-out lie. I have always been interested in the power of what a person tells themselves (Could that explain war? murder? ) and even as far as making a wrongful action something they can live with. For example, I once had a customer who asked if I would split up a bronze Eastlake door knob set. I said no, that the fancy back plate, key cover, etc. had to stay with the knobs. A short time later, I saw the doorknobs were gone. I wondered, did that person tell themselves that they had tried to buy them separately, they had tried to be honest but the shopkeeper would’t let them be honest? Did that make them able to live with the theft? Well, this has nothing to do with the poem…..but the poem opens up the mind and it wanders off into other directions. That is what I think good art does.

    • Who knows what people tell themselves in order to justify their bad behavior. Sometimes, when things go negative, it seems as if the mind is a bottomless pit. That’s awful about the doorknobs. Between the fact that you deal in precious vintage items that speak to you of history, and also deal with “the public,” I’ll bet you have many a good story to tell. I must thank you once again for being such an insightful and generously encouraging reader, Ginene.

    • Thank you so much, Hilary.

      Sacred Harp, or shape note singing, started in New England here, but the shape-note technique must have been in the UK even earlier…the 2016 Convention (the 21st such convention) of Sacred Harp singers was held just a week ago, in Bristol, UK, this year. I think Ireland also has such a convention, and I know there are Sacred Harp groups in New Zealand and Australia as well. I love the democracy of it (no such thing as a non-singer) as well as the sound.

  6. The forbidden mourning becomes a regret dialogue with one who was not what he appeared. This gives this short romantic poem accompanied by the sweet music of the quivering leaves of aspen.
    Love ❀
    Michel

  7. Whether intended or not, this poem has the symbolism of two-line stanzas ending with one line, which only adds to its ‘short but bittersweet’ appeal….a fitting complement to its ‘long but bittersweet’ title. At least, that’s how it appears to me. πŸ™‚

  8. It is so easy to get caught up in what we see and think or believe what we’ve seen to be true. Much was said with few lines, but for me they hold deep meaning Cynthia. Beautiful work ~

  9. This succinct poem truly resonates with me, Cynthia. Very much to the point – that disillusionment that cuts us, and ultimately gives us a certain power (hard to explain). It’s like taking out the garbage, though that’s crudely put. When we write a poem like this it frees us. It’s a purification of sorts. At least that’s been my experience….

  10. No matter how hard I try, I cannot perceive the title in any other way than the opening stanza. With whose pent-up pain the aspen trees forbidding mourning are quaking? Then again, it is a counterbalance to the measured release, so much to wishing, wanting / what I fancied to be true…

  11. The title is quite dramatic, but there is no mourning or drama in this poem, just a slightly amused look cast to the past. Ah those illusions of our youth. It is so entertaining to remember their taste and aftertaste. Very elegant poem.

    • Yes, exactly, Inese. The title is the drama, the view from outside, while the reality (I prefer the word “actuality”) is the simple, sober point. As the youngsters say these days: it is what it is.

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