I've always loved poetry, and as a failed teenage poet, I think I developed a deep appreciation of real poets and how difficult it is to find the perfect word to build an insightful, beautiful poem. Since this is National Poetry Month, the first poem I'll share with you is from Stolen Air: The Selected Poems of Osip Mandlestam, translated by Christian Wiman.
Take, from my palms, for joy, for ease,
A little honey, a little sun,
That we may obey Persephone's bees.
You can't untie a boat unmoored.
Fur-shod shadows can't be heard,
Nor terror, in this life, mastered.
Love, what's left for us, and of us, is this
Living remnant, loving revenant, brief kiss
Like a bee flying completed dying hiveless
To find in the forest's heart a home,
Night's never-ending hum,
Thriving on meadowsweet, mint, and time.
Take, for all that's good, for all that is gone,
That it may lie rough and real against your collarbone,
This string of bees, that once turned honey into sun.
This next poem is refreshing:
The Trees by Philip Larkin
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
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I just finished "13 Rue Therese" by Elena Mauli Shapiro yesterday, and I must say I was surprised by the ending of this thrilling literary fiction title.
The book is mainly the story of Frenchwoman Louise Brunet, told through the fevered imaginings of Trevor Stratton, a professor who discovers a box of artifacts(such as letters, coins, gloves, envelopes, scissors, etc) that belonged to Brunet, and feels compelled to write letters that detail the history surrounding each one. Stratton doesn't know he's been left the box by Josianne, his clerk, but eventually figures that out as his narrative of the artifacts gets steamier with erotic interludes.
I found that the short chapters focusing on one artifact at a time lead me to stay up late, turning pages to find out what would happen to Louise next; would she leave her boring husband, Henri for her sensual and married neighbor? Would she become pregnant from their affair? What happened to her cousin Camille, her first love, during WWI? The answers come swiftly and imaginatively in this robust novel written in saucy prose that winks at the reader and invites them to journey with Louise to find satisfaction for herself, and for Trevor Stratton, who comes alive with love and lust for Louise, though she's long dead. Juicy and clever, this novel deserves an A and a recommendation for all those who find ghosts in the objects of a bygone era.