Friday, 21 August 2015

First Love


What makes a good poem? I'd say when the swirl of feelings, emotions and all kinds of vague notions are translated into an imaginative expression that rings not only pleasing, a-ha accurate and authentic, but true. So true it resonates not only at the logical level, but the emotional core. And what makes a good love poem? Wonder, starry-eyed wonder - and the language to prove it all true of course.

Like this poem from Stanley Kunitz in which the transformation love engenders is described in simple but astonishing detail. I love every wonder-swept line of it. True, true, true.

First Love - Stanley Kunitz 
At his incipient sun
The ice of twenty winters broke,
Crackling, in her eyes.

Her mirroring, still mind,
That held the world (made double) calm,
Went fluid, and it ran.

There was a stir of music,
Mixed with flowers, in her blood;
A swift impulsive balm

From obscure roots;
Gold bees of clinging light
Swarmed in her brow.

Her throat is full of songs,
She hums, she is sensible of wings
Growing on her heart.

She is a tree in spring
Trembling with the hope of leaves,
Of which the leaves are tongues.

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