Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Madness and blue roses

How to order hardcover or paperback from anywhere? Go here.
Phoenicia Publishing of Montreal, 2012:
Book design by Elizabeth Adams,
The marvelous interior and exterior art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins of Wales.

Here's the merest snip of dangerous weather on the lake from Thaliad . . .  . Because I am dreaming of hot weather and a thunderstorm over Lake Otsego instead of ice and ice and blebs and icicles and rimed crystals and simple prisms and stellar or sectored plates and dendrite crystals and triangulars and plate crystals and fernlike stellar dendrites and bullet rosettes and crystal needles and hollow or capped columns and double plates or split plates and snow and snow and did I say ice and snow? Ah, the alien, barely inhabitable realm of Yankee winter with its radiating dendrites--so strange, so insane, so cold-and-virus laden, so ingenious in its complex miseries, so full of barkings like a seal, so many-kleenexed, so white, so starry, so shivery, so interminable, so Narnian, so White Witchian.

See that white woman on the jacket of Thaliad? She's cold, isn't she? And she's dreaming about leaves and birds and fruit. But she's white as snow! Give that poor child some leafy frolic, will you?

Excuse me, y'all, while I go out into the back yard and howl my no-doubt temporary madness caused by accumulated stars and my nigh-complete despair of spring, letting the echoes (in a Southern accent) reverberate from the ice of Otsego bloody Lake. Thank you for your kind understanding.

And now for a moment of heat, excessive heat . . .

The roses blossomed on heat’s lattices
In blues no earthly rose could conjure up—
Great cabbage roses, bruising cumulus
With pearly dew that sluiced the prickled stems
And, sliding on cold streams within the air,
Vaulted from a moveable precipice
To slam from heights on wind-lashed surfaces
As lightning’s forests sprouted upside down.
Somewhere impossible to breathe and be,
Where cataracts are ring-tailed roarers seized
And then let go, where hail is grown from dust
Like instant pearls to rattle in the sky.
A power struck war hammers on the rose
And rock of anvil-clouds: the rain obscured,
Erased the land, ascended as a mist.

Of course, any time we get some good old burning heat up here, it's going to transform into something ridiculous like a violent hailstorm. Because that's just how it is on the edge of a deep, mysterious Yankee lake with its own castle and fjordish serpent.


  1. Sorry if I smile at the many wonderful words for ice in a can't-catch-one's-breath output! I haven't forgotten those long cold winters of the first 25 years of my life, so I do feel much empathy. Here's wishing for spring to come soon! Stay warm and well, Marly.

  2. There's nothing like venting a little heat in the form of words to keep warm!

  3. And when the southern lady howls in the wilds of upstate New York, do the monosyllabic Yankees run away in terror, or do they simply stand frozen -- confused by the syncopated lyrical dialect?

  4. Ah, those syllables are just lost in the vast extent of ice and snow!

  5. Poor old Marly, southern to the bone! Spring will come.

  6. Tomcat, all I can think is why on earth did I jettison my Puttenham's "Art of English Poesy" in the great book purge? I love all those old terms... Thank you!

  7. Hah! You clever woman...southern to the bone. (Why is Lucy so clever. That's a title from "The Throne of Psyche.")

  8. Haha, "Polsyndetic syntax" was a phrase my supervisor rammed down my throat when we were reading Cormac McCarthy. It's about the only technical rhetoric term I know.

    Oh.. apart from "Tapinosis" - to undermine high and lofty language by immediately following it with crude and base language. I like that one. :)

  9. Typos are our enemy!

    Hah, that's hilarious... I was trying to remember the Latin name of one Puttenham calls "the traveller," in which you move a word from its expected place to another place in the line. I really like that one. Some very weird effects.

    I must say that I thought about some of those terms when writing "The Throne of Psyche" sequence and experimented with a few. It made me do things I would not have thought of on my own. Like this climax via gradatio (steps):

    One afternoon of blessed ignorance,
    My sisters smiled at tales of love and plucked
    The leaves from Mother's waterfalls of hair.
    I whirled about and caught one spinning leaf--
    Then I was leaf and silver-green of shade,
    And shade withstood my joyous flare of sun,
    And sun tossed fiery spangles on the sea,
    And sea ran laughing round the throne of earth,
    And spangled sun and sea-laved earth were mine,
    And I, so spellbound, did not understand
    My ears were echoing with fate foretold
    When the dryad cast her rustling riddle:
    Mortality and immortality
    Are wed in you, a perishable grit
    Lapped round in seas of pearl--you are the light
    That sits enthroned wherever love is born.

    Tapinosis - when a body becomes riddle with tapeworms.

    1. Oops--riddled!

      Although becoming a riddle is strange...

  10. What if you willingly make a spelling mistake?...


    ... sorry. :)

    1. Ack! I guess I'd just console myself for knowledge of errors with some homemade . . . tapioca. ;)


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.