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Friday, July 30, 2021

Rabbits, Tavener, Poems


Thanks to Conor Sweetman and the staff of Ekstasis, who recently accepted a couple of poems of mine; the first can be found HERE. If you want to know more about the rabbits--hares, really-- you can see a Cornish tin miner's  badge here, an Alsace puzzle plate here, a Mogao Caves temple decoration here, a Jewish tombstone here... And there are many more examples, in many cultures.

In England and Europe, the three hares appear to have been adopted as a symbol of the Trinity, and certainly they are three-in-one in an Escheresque manner! Syncretic symbol? In part because rabbits are linked to fertility, I think of the also-fertile green man motif. I've never understood the reason academics don't see why Medieval churches adopted the image of the green man, often shown as vomiting leaves. Surely he is an emblem of new life and creation. Moreover, he speaks creation like the God of Genesis, who says, "Let there be light: and there was light." The green man is a rude thing, sure, but clearly bursting with life and its enchantment. I expect the Gawain poet with his Green Knight would've understood. The three hares seem a similar borrowing, an understanding that patterns underlie the nature of the world and are meaningful, even when they seem a bit homely and countrified. The three hares remind me of what composer John Taverner called images or verse of "primordial innocence," work that is simple and beautiful and childlike. For him, that's always connected with being open to revelation, ready to receive something from beyond.


Thinking of Taverner and beauty... 

His Three Holy Sonnets (inspired by Donne's "Spit in My Face," "Death Be Not Proud," and "I am a little world") were written when he was fifteen. And I'm still thinking about how Stravinsky looked at the score and wrote "I know" on it. So many possible reasons to write such a thing!

Interesting to have good work remaining from the teen years. I regret throwing away all my poems when I was twenty and graduated from college. They were fantastical and full of youth, whatever else they were. In love with sound and enchantment. And I should never have gone on to graduate school. It was not good for my poems. Unlearning took me a long time.


Though I've been doing too much travel and have too many strenuous things to accomplish this year (not bookish things!), I'm again thinking about writing another long poem, as I mentioned before. I've been surprised by how many people have read and liked Thaliad (that is, in the smaller scale numbers of poetry), but even more years of Western cultural decay have passed by since that poem was published, so that I find that I now have some doubt of readers picking up a long formal poem.

But I still might do it, at least for myself. I have a good deal of work I've never tried to publish, and not everything has to be sent out in the world. Still pondering.


  1. Interesting. You appear be conceiving the project without first considering the subject matter. Of course for me it's simpler; just another Shakespearean sonnet: ABAB, CD und so weiter. That familiar framework with its whip-snap conclusion that everyone told me I should drop. My defence: I'm an amateur, perhaps even a cripple. I will always need crutches.

  2. Drat! Blogger ate my comments... I should learn to copy first, I suppose.

    I do indeed consider the subject matter. But I know myself reasonably well (any more would be painful), and I know that I will never write anything I discuss beforehand. Evidently I have a bent toward mystery and secrecy.

    You malign yourself! You are in good sonnet-mania company. Look at Merrill Moore, who wrote more than 50k sonnets while working as a psychiatrist (the madness, the madness!) He's still read and easily found online. As he only lived to his early 50's, you have no excuse not to go and commit more sonnets.

    And there's Vikram Seth's "The Golden Gate." I have not read it, but I have thought about reading it and may yet. I believe it is 600 sonnets.

    So there you go. A company of at least three sonnet-obsessed fellows. The Fellowship of the Sonnet. Go to!

  3. I'm awfully late in responding to this, but I'd certainly enjoy reading another long poem by you...

    1. And that gives me a stellar reader! Thanks, Jeff... I'm late in responding also--arrived from a West Virginia and Virginia trip about an hour ago.


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.