Sunday, October 05, 2014

Gift of Autumn

This gorgeous plant, one of my husband's favorites ,
put on a late flush of bloom in the bed on the west side of the house last week.

Tonight's poem is also about a flower, from another one of the wonderful books brought into print by the dedicated labors of Sam Hamill at Copper Canyon Press. I've been searching these out.

This poem is not quite two thousand years old, and is brought you you on the Internet in 2014!

The Pool is Full of Autumn Sky,
Rippled by Gentle Breezes

The pool is full of autumn sky, rippled by gentle breezes.
Strange misty skiff mounts on that sky,
and with the dew I pluck the lotus,
gift of autumn; on my heart,
the very flower marked with tears.

When you snap the lotus stalk,
the threads hang on.
Break the blossom off, stretch out the threads;
draw out your heart.
As I sail home, I'll turn my glance
from lotus-flowered margin of the waves:
from the shore, someone gazes.

Ou-Yang Hsiu (1007-1072)

from Love and Time; the poems of Ou-Yang Hsiu;
edited and translated by J. P. Seaton, 
Copper Canyon Press, 1989. Page 37.

It is interesting to think about how capital letters are used in the titles of books and of poems; and also at the beginning of the lines of a poem. In this case, the translator has capitalized the beginning of sentences only. In the title, he used the form of capitalization for titles I was taught in grade school: only the beginning word and the important words are capitalized. Since I have been using this form almost all of my life, I am quite comfortable with it, but I can see that, in many ways. it doesn't make much sense. To me it just looks pretty. What forms pf capitalization do you prefer in your poems??

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