Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

5/21/2004

Leonie Adams is one of my favorite 20th c. American poets:

THIS SEVERING

I turned as new resigned:
A summer gleaned, my business was within,
My charge the sober mind,
My care the wintry bin.
And found the boughs in stain,
Past-promise-hued. O not
Before, earnest as rich was yet so plain;
A harvest was ungot.
Beech drenching down my pathway goldenheart,
Ash, pensive light-cheek rose,
Both pluck the thought apart,
And meant you, heart, to close?
So fell the doomed farewells;
So, so looked forth a thing:
Regret, reproach, what else
Must baffle, vex, beguile this severing.

__________

There are so many books forgotten from 1900-1950. So many poets once famous now nothing on the public library shelf & in boxes. Most of it is indeed bland, hoary, cliche ridden, "official verse culture" if there ever was one. But there's always something about Adams's work that draws me back. For her, language was molten and molting, skating on the edge of insensibility, in a manner not dissimilar to Prynne.

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