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Sunday, 4 October 2009

Psyche's Bower (Hampstead, May 1819)


File:Youngpeach3800ppx Cropped.jpg

All but flesh dissolving in her moist bud,
The wishword of opening blossoms less rich,
Sweet tartness of the freckle-pink shrine,
Sanctuary of blissful stasis, hushed cache
Of blue-white and silver star flowers,
Million pleasures of her white breasts,
All the soft roundness of the growing
Peach on the too high branch, still out of reach
Though I am forever stretching out my hand.

Developing peach (Prunus persica): photo by Fastily, 2009

from TC: Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats


Mariana Soffer said...

Good post TC, I do not know why but there is always something suggestive, sensual about a peach, even the sound of the words have that feel.

Take care

TC said...

Thank you Mariana, and yes, that curious delicious peachy suggestiveness was the entire point of this post -- though I hate to use the pointy word "point" about something so... what's the word?... beautifully pointless?

Rachel said...

I agree, the peach is very sensual. Even the sounds when eating a ripe, juicy one. Thank you for the post, you are a whole world unto yourself and I so enjoy visiting.

TC said...

Thank you Rachel.

You know while on this subject--the subject of pleasure I believe it is--and the closely related subject of suggestion--I suggest taking a look at this Deep Keats Scroll:

Negative Capability: The Beatified Strawberry

The strawberry is at the bottom of the page; you can make it big by clicking on it, and down at the bottom you will see Keats's deliriously wonderful letter description of the experience of eating a nectarine: "...good god how fine it went down, soft, pulpy, slushy, oozy, all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a beatified strawberry..."

On the Scroll I have drawn that beatified strawberry.

It's the term "embonpoint" that so totally captures the life in Keats and for that matter in the marvelous period in which he lived, maybe the last relatively guilt-free time and place in which English prevailed as a spoken language.

And how they spoke it!

(The rather wet scholar Christopher Ricks once wrote a whole book on the subject of Keats's tendency to such slushy mouthings, "slippery blisses" as a euphemism for kisses, etc., but I've always thought the book coy and selfconscious in a way Keats probably was not.. all these matters of Period Taste being so hard to squeeze into Critical Categorization anyway.)

My image search for this post in fact did lead me though some extremely drippy and inviting dew-wet nectarines almost ready to burst from their branch, but I abstained in favor of the present leaf-sequestered and virginal peach, obviously far too young for touching and anyway, as the poem suggests, well out of reach to a person as small as Keats, who would have had to be standing tip-toe on a chair... it was the poignancy of that image in my mind of him reaching for the desirable and unattainable pleasure that, I had hoped, would brace the poem, at its ending, against seeming merely indulgent (as he so plainly remains unable to indulge).

human being said...

still out of reach
and what does this teach?


Rachel said...

The Deep Keats Scroll is a real treasure! It brings up so many responsibilities of the poet (if one chooses to accept them). And how fun it would be to indulge so! Embonpoint is a new word for me, thank you for teaching, and is lacking from most modern poetry and visual art. Maybe I will have an indulgent day just to write and draw about it.

TC said...

Should we
indulge ourselves
each to each,

might an indulgent day
teach us to taste a peach
we can't quite reach?

Rachel said...

I hope so, that sounds like great fun. Love that poem!

~otto~ said...

"forever stretching out my hand"