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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A Une Jeune Fille

You might fill empty futures with your raging

Power. Everything is possible.

The story has not yet begun yet promises

Much. Having glimpsed the magic ring

On the captive's finger, the bright-eyed heroine

Might turn out to be you, making your way

Up mountains of difficulty to shining

Temples in which is kept alive that flame

Of truth which burns at the heart of the ark

Of the covenant of being you.

You might, in the forest, hear that falling tree.

You're young, you want to be free, but aren't yet.

You might walk the cow, ride the rocket ship.

You might book the flight, then jump out of the plane.

You might meet a boy named X. He might say

You don't know me, nor do I know you.

Portrait of a Young Venetian Woman: Albrecht Dürer, 1505 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)

Heinrike Dannecker: Christian Gottlieb Shick, 1802 (Nationalgalerie, Berlin)


Zephirine said...

Great sceptical stares from these two jeunes filles!This process is so interesting - will you now always associate the lovely Durer girl with this poem, even though she may not have been in your mind when you wrote it?

TC/BTP said...


Yes, the "process" is very interesting to me, too.

Not to be TOO faux pedantic but I am put in mind of the old Horatian saw, Ut pictura poiesis, or As goes painting, so goes poetry. Have long been fascinated by that. I've always found that the poems of mine that stay with me are the ones I can remember as pictures.

So what I've set out to do is find those pictures. And of course the pictures I find aren't those pictures. But often I like the pictures I do find better, and see that the words I have written must change for the occasion. It has so far been a change for the better in every case.

What the image/word combinations come out "saying" or "meaning" is almost never what I had intended to say or mean, and that is, for me, the pleasure of the thing.

For the images and words to speak together it seems helpful, first, that they not know each other too well beforehand and, second, that the words make an effort to mind their manners, supposing they have any to begin with.

Much of the picture-shopping is of course intuitive and chance has played a happy part in the designs at almost every turn.

Finding the girl for A Une Jeune Fille took looking at a great many paintings of young women.

The astounding Durer in Vienna seemed to raise the bar of the search significantly. The Young Venetian Woman is certainly nobody's fool. But as I did NOT want to pin the ekphrastic association entirely upon her (after all she had done nothing to deserve such a fate), I felt an alternative image was needed. There was a lovely Fragonard Young Girl Reading that gave pause. The dead-serious late 15th-c.Portrait of a Young Girl by Petrus Christus appealed a great deal, but the young girl's severity was so extreme it appeared unlikely she would ever buy the ticket, then jump off the plane (let alone walk the cow or ride the rocket ship)... and there followed many another. Then I came upon the amazingly bright, pert and self capable Heinrike Dannecker of Christian Gottlieb Shick. In that instant I knew I had a match for Durer's Venetian.

No, I'll never be so bold as to associate any of those young moment in my mind with my foolish little poem. That would be mere impertinence. 'Twill be tother way round surely. I'll gratefully associate the poem with them.

TC/BTP said...

...of course in saying "moment" in that last paragraph what I meant to say was "women", but since, as suggested above, all this may be nothing but a complicated experiment in arriving at meanings you did think you intended, perhaps it ought to be let stand...

Nora said...

That moment/woman slip is wonderful.

TC/BTP said...

...but not as wonderful as the ensuing poor-recovery slip: "meanings you did think you intended" for "meanings you did not think you intended."

And what is the meaning of this binge of unintended meanings?

Nora, your extensive acquaintance with furred creatures will perhaps help you to understand the effects of accumulated furballs in computer keyboards.

For already motor-disordered geriatric hunt-and-peckers, these effects can be ruinous, as my home studies have shown.

Several hours of delicately picking out the furballs from the jammed space-bar later, I can safely say that henceforth all inadvertent revelations and admissions on this site will need a new excuse.

Anonymous said...

"What the image/word combinations come out "saying" or "meaning" is almost never what I had intended to say or mean, and that is, for me, the pleasure of the thing."

This search for what it is you might have meant is fascinating, isn't it. To slip at a tangent from another discussion in another place, if you get the technique write, the meaning will emerge, much to your surprise.

BTW, I've known and enjoyed your poetry for years; nice to have this contact, even at a remove.


TC/BTP said...


I couldn't agree more with your generous bit of tangential slippage, anyway as that other place is all one marvelously permissive and often brilliant tangent, I'm sure they won't be jealous.

Please feel welcome here, it is a bonafide blessing for any poetry site to feel the presence of a person who may have inspired more poems in the past year than anyone else alive.

Anonymous said...

"if you get the technique write"

Now there's an interesting slip, when what I intended was "if you get the technique right"



TC/BTP said...

Probably shouldn't have admitted that one Bill--it had already nearly qualified you for the neo-academic avant garde (though of course the admissions committee would not dare gaze hereupon!).

Anonymous said...

One club I'll never be invited to.