Gwendolyn MacEwen Nov 16, 2008 20:32:28 GMT 2
Post by louisa on Nov 16, 2008 20:32:28 GMT 2
From: Judith Fitzgerald's WriteSite. Reprinted with permission.
Dark Pines Under Water
This land like a mirror turns you inward
And you become a forest in a furtive lake;
The dark pines of your mind reach downward,
You dream in the green of your time,
Your memory is a row of sinking pines.
Explorer, you tell yourself this is not what you came for
Although it is good here, and green;
You had meant to move with a kind of largeness,
You had planned a heavy grace, an anguished dream.
But the dark pines of your mind dip deeper
And you are sinking, sinking, sleeper
In an elementary world;
There is something down there and you want it told.
"Dark Pines Under Water," from The Shadow Maker (1972)
Reprinted with permission from Judith Fitzgerald via her website (which also includes her analysis of the poem):
Gwendolyn MacEwen (b at Toronto 1 Sept 1941; d at Toronto 29 Nov 1987).
A sophisticated, wide-ranging and thoughtful writer, she began her career with the poetry collection The Drunken Clock (1961). Through many other, larger poetry collections - especially The Rising Fire (1963), A Breakfast for Barbarians (1966), The Shadow-Maker (1969, Governor General's Award) and Afterworlds (1987 shortlisted for Governor General's Award) - she displayed a commanding interest in magic and history as well as an elaborate and penetrating dexterity in her versecraft.
Her fiction included two novels, Julian the Magician (1963) and King of Egypt, King of Dreams (1971), and a collection of stories, Noman (1972). In addition, she published plays, a translation, a children's book and a travel narrative, Mermaids and Ikons: A Greek Summer (1978), which reminds us of the international outlook and gift for languages obvious in her novels and sometimes in her poems.
reprinted in part from The Canadian Encyclopedia (online)
Other poems can be found at the Canadian Poetry site, University of Toronto and University of Toronto Library www.library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/macewen/index.htm
More on Gwendolyn MacEwen:
Gwen and Yours Truly
Judith Fitzgerald recalls her friendship with Gwendolyn MacEwen
The Selected Gwendolyn MacEwen
Judith Fitzgerald's review of the work edited by Meaghan Strimas
at Monsters & Critics (28 April 2008).
Elegy Written in a December State of Mind
Four in the morning, unfortunately. December
dissolves in some meterological memory of which
I know little. I want to know. I want to understand
anything; understand how my life goes quite leisurely
on . . . Yours does not. Anyhow, a lack of rain wreaks
dreadful havoc with skin and time, with scales
and such, with myths. It rained the day we sat
on the patio in some upscale bar where we traded
downscale dreams. I wanted the south; you loved
the north. That balanced us, encompassed.
We knew directions. Had no need of maps.
Valéry? "A poem's worth is its content
of pure poetry." Some call us weird; some call
us from terrains we inhabit intimately —
ultimately. Still no rain, no snow. A high-
pressure zone. Goddamn it, Gwen! What happened
to the instrument discovered; pointing beyond
those excoriating years when, after learning
the futility of bottle as prop, we dreamed
deliriously of transportation? Nights we
discussed perfect mates. All you wanted :
A love without dissolution — Complete
surrender. Complete control — A destination
in itself. Now, the mist is a blanket of doom . . .
I root here; turn stone cold; try to recall "extra-
ordinary truths of perfect adaptations." A claw
clutches edges of voice explaining unrelenting
applause of hacksaw violating chest, assorted details,
image indelibly vibrant. This raw senselessness —
anaesthetic consciousness, sheer black hue. This world —
neither various, beautiful, nor new, presses on. I knew
a woman "of apparent and convincing probability
in the production of the improbable," a beautiful shy swimmer
and also, a swan. Beyond this fog?
Mist. Rain. Fragile demon flags.
"Elegy Written in a December State of Mind,"
Ultimate Midnight (Windsor: Black Moss Press, 1992).
© 1992-2009 Judith Fitzgerald. All Rights Reserved.