Sunday, 14 December 2014

Day 878: Snow Queen Meditations #3


'Under my ribs a diamond splinter now
Sticks, and has taken root; I know
Only this frozen spear that drives me through.'

Most metaphorical readings of the figure of the snow queen amount to this: an ice queen not made of pure cruelty but hardened by inflicted hurt, her defiant unfeeling or 'frozen' state a method of self-preservation and self-protection, what Adrienne Rich talks of here in this striking interpretation.



The Snow Queen - Adrienne Rich

Child with a chip of mirror in his eye
Saw the world ugly, fled to plains of ice
Where beauty was the Snow Queen's promises.
Under my lids a splinter sharp as his
Has made me wish you lying dead
Whose image digs the needle deeper still.

In the deceptive province of my birth
I had seen yes turn no, the saints descend,
Their sacred faces twisted into smiles,
The stars gone lechering, the village spring
Gush mud and toads---all miracles
Befitting an incalculable age.

To love a human face was to discover
The cracks of paint and varnish on the brow;
Soon to distrust all impulses of flesh
That strews its sawdust on the chamber floor,
While at the window peer two crones
Who once were Juliet and Jessica.

No matter, since I kept a little while
One thing intact from that perversity---
Though landscapes bloomed in monstrous cubes and coils.
In you belonged simplicities of light
To mend distraction, teach the air
To shine, the stars to find their way again.

Yet here the Snow Queen's cold prodigious will
Commands me, and your face has lost its power,
Dissolving to its opposite like the rest.
Under my ribs a diamond splinter now
Sticks, and has taken root; I know
Only this frozen spear that drives me through.

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