November 4, 2010...12:01 am

The Song of Wandering Aengus

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If you think I’ve forgotten about our sweet sashay into WB Yeats and his mythical poem, I’m here to remind you that I didn’t forget. Yes, it’s been on the blog wall for 3 months. Yes, the whole Mama:Monk thing is that we’re supposed to have one poem to memorize per month. Yes, I should confess that I didn’t start memorizing it until a month ago. But, forget? No. Feel guilty about my failure of a poetry appreciator? Yes.

All that to say, this Yeats poem has been deliberately working its way into my mind for the past month. It’s written on the dry-erase-marker-friendly, industrial back splash of our new kitchen and its lovely images have been nice to stir pots beside.

This poem is small to me in the sense that the narrative is small. There’s not some great emotional charge that comes from it (which is usually what draws me to a poem). But the story is grand in its speaker’s quest and the images are perfect. Really, that’s what I can’t get over in this poem. I can take or leave the speaker. I feel little for the “glimmering girl” and don’t necessarily love her. What I do love, though, is the apple blossom in her hair.

In fact, the apple is the perfectly round, ripe fruit that describes all the lovely images in this work. They’re these shiny fruits longing to be picked and held and admired…then crunched on.

Here is what I’m admiring: The “cut and peeled” hazel wand with a berry hanging from it by a thread. “Moth-like stars.” I can’t get over this image. I love how he introduces the moths in the line before then describes the stars as being the same. Of course stars are like white fuzzy moths. Why has no one described them this way before?

I love the “long dappled grass.” Dappled is one of those words that (at least for me) doesn’t even need to make sense here. I just adore the sound of it. But I love thinking of grass as being dappled, of the shade of the grass being patchy or blotchy. Why is that? The moonlight? Is it drying out?

And, of course, there are the apples. “The silver apples of the moon / The golden apples of the sun.” If there’s a perfectly legitimate reason for memorizing this poem, its so that for the rest of your life when you handle apples at the grocery store, you can whisper these two lines to yourself. What makes the apples of the moon silver? The shade of night? That’s what I assume. The apples take on their light source; they’re reflective. And in that sense, they’re magical.

Of course, this entire poem is magical. It’s just not magical enough to bring any kind of closure. This is a sad poem about a lonely man in a manic (a “fire” is in his head) search for a woman (/fish?) who knew his name then ran. He can’t stop following something that probably doesn’t exist. But what does exist is the way that light reflects on the apple. What exists is the elemental nature of the images.

What does that mean? I’m not sure. I just like the plop of the berry landing in the water. And I think that’s enough to make this poem worth my attention.

What do you think?


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