At Wilton, the Earl of Pembroke’s lordly house,
a “Picture” of the extended family.
No quick-frozen moment. Subtle homily,
Legend, brushed with Van Dyck’s high accuracy
of timeblend. Daubed in at rear, diaphanous,
a regal Lady, arms folded. Not the captious
new wife to Pembroke. All serenity,
black-gowned serenity, the calm of death.
On Tudor tombs, the same cool folded arms.
Pembroke’s first wife, transmitter of cultured breadth
to well-mannered children. The last cruel harms
transfigured to charms: achieved, the painter’s task:
One vivid dancer, whisked from life’s brief masque.
Great Susan Vere, crag-faced Ben Jonson’s friend,
wed to Montgomery (now Pembroke) of the First Folio.
Daughter to an eccentric, elbow-bend,
impoverished earl who hid behind “E.O.,”
“Ignoto,” or—name ever-memorable—“Shakespeare,”
of a playwright’s and poet’s nature, rendered wise
by learning like Plato, suffering like King Lear.
Approving his Hamlet’s exposé of spies,
his harrowing plowshare service to the truth,
for Jonson and Inigo Jones, lightly visored,
she glided with her inborn grace and youth.
But how might she answer, if we only inquired:
How much of her in Cordelia’s blunt sweet speech,
Princess and Fool in one boy-actor’s equal reach?
TINTAGEL POST OFFICE
Tintagel Village: every last parcel post
or letter, miles around, circulates via this one
quaint 16th-century farmhouse, where no ghost,
Elizabethan or modern, lacks the fun,
the mischief, that deals fright like penny stamps;
one dread lick, glue the tongue and that’s the scare.
The spirits here seem merely simple scamps,
imps worthy to dangle on strings at village fairs.
Now enter Arnold Bax, on bicycle.
Has Tanya left billets-doux? Notes of rendezvous?
[To the postmistress:] —Anything from a Miss Cohen?
Symphonic movement-moods come cyclical:
Up, down, full wheel-spin. Why all this need to guess?
Postmistress serves ice cream. One “cornet,”
two pence for you.
—for Michael Frost
RED AUTUMN (symphonic poem, Arnold Bax)
Composed too early for Tanya to take effect;
yet: love’s despair-pattern. Spattering air like blood,
leaves, stripped from each twig, as gold and scarlet defect,
fading shapes added to pavement’s mud-trod flood.
Flute, clarinet swirls, light micro-tornados within
the one big wind. Then angular again:
in Graham Parlett’s orchestration, din
rages up from that dense and protean fen
from which your Irish elegy, Symphony One,
Movement Two, ten years hence, will arise.
Now lyricism steals in: the winds die down,
those leaf-floats mark sweet, freshening patches of air.
Deceiver life sweeps in, sweeps out, love’s disrepair.
Never make a decision when you are upset, sad, jealous or in love.
Our thanks to Tom Goff for his fine poetry today, prompting us to find images of Tintagel! A reminder: there will be a MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop at Sac. Poetry Center tonight, 6pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
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