By Edgar Allan Poe
Probably one of my favorites by him.
This poem captures the great burden of the artist, the blessing and curse that comes with creating art. We wield great power, but we love what others cannot see or understand (until we’ve created it). In this sense, the artist is alone. The “demon” is Poe’s calling to be an artist.
A close friend of mine is getting married in a couple of weeks. A long time ago, they asked me to write a poem for their wedding. I thought I’d share it here.
They walk in beauty
With stars up above,
Hearts glazed in light
And overflowing with love.
She carries her life
A budding rose of white
Tinted blue from the gaze
Of her gentle-eyed knight.
What is stronger than death,
More fragile than a bud
Than the hearts of two children
Bound together by God’s love?
(Photo: Pablo Heimplatz)
You think that we are small and delicate
With dust in our wings and petals as our walls,
But we have more power than your mind could bear,
More wealth than a Pharaoh or all the banks of Ophir.
You think we live to dance and leave dew on the grass,
But we do more than make children fly.
We have raised up kings and knights,
Determining the fate of whom we love and hate.
We can change our shape to be what we will,
Fragile and gentle in the eyes of a child
But as fair as the moon and as clear as the sun,
Turning tides, giving light, creating life
In a never ending chase around an unsearchable earthen heart.
We have the beauty of roses as delicate as the petals
Where you imagine we spend our days pruning our wings,
But our thorns are as terrible as an army with banners.
(Photo: Lawrence Green)
gazing at ground between his feet
the world nearly tipped
the nations battled for the third time
lust bloodshed and cruelty
for the sake of their vanities
their governments religions and economies
he grew weary
their speeches of hope
made him groan
their battle cries
punctured his skin
their weapons of free radicals
burned his hands
and he could bear it no longer.
when the world grew dark
the wars stopped
but fear grew stronger
people came together
when the death stench was strong
looking everywhere for the cause
except their own hands
but the world had ended
because the one who bore them
could bear them no more.
(Photo: Mads Schmidt Rasmussen)
We, rebels, we
In the smoke in the fog
In the streets in the dark
Run for cover, run for love.
Heresy, they cry, heresy
In the world in our hearts
In the sky on the throne
Breaking all bonds of trust.
We, men and women,
Haters of gray and lies and half-hearts,
Lovers of truth and life and battle scars,
Couriers of black red yellow and white
Against shadows of truths
We fight we fight.
O alegría, preciosa alegría. There was a window. Rosado. Outside were brown and red bricks. The lady with dark hair sang.
Oh mi oh mi, mi vida es, mi vida es. We ate ice cream. Vanilla con fresas. Red and pink and white, and purple skies. Azul! Azul! The children shouted. No, morado! I would yell.
Tengo tiempo, todo el tiempo en el mundo. The world was young then. I had dark brown eyes. But his eyes were blue and green like sea water crashing on the shore. The ocean sings. But not like our brown lady.
Hermosa, they whispered. Hermosa, tan hermosa. I mixed the flour and sugar, but it always burnt. The clothes danced in the wind. Where? Outside. ¿Dónde? He shook his head. His laugh sounded like Christmas.
Quiero amor, quiero amor. We stopped to listen. The trees bent, and the flowers hushed. The clothes became still. We ran to the window. There. There! His eyes swam in the sky and captured the stars, while his laugh danced.
Quiero un hombre, quiero un hombre. She twirled until the orange and pink blended into a mango. The statues made me sad, but we watched. God listened. The window turned white and foggy under my nose and mouth. I held my breath. He held his. Mi madre, I whispered. Someday, he whispered back.
‘Tis common, thou know’st; Fear dwells among us.
Woe be to him who thinks he can escape.
It dwell’st inside thy limbs, turns heart to dust,
And circles round thy neck as a black cape
Of darkness and trembling and shadows of the abyss
Where light, nevermore, can shroud you in its bliss.
But here, only here, can you see the spirit divine
And grasp its hand to glimpse the place where twines
Light and dark in twilight. Among colors of purple blue pink and red
There catches the lovely reflecting light of where there exists no dread.
In this night-day when angel painters stretch their arms to paint the sky,
The darkness of your shadow seems to pale until out of sight.
In the scheme of things in this wild, untamed earth, there is little heed for its citizens and cities and archetypical arts.
It does not mind your fears or woes or capes made of shadows or incomes or well-dones or jobs or clothes.
It does not care for your worries and hurries and lusty fights or lonely nights or battles done or conquests won or good days or what’s to come.
The fancy utters of night in dreams
That lay me down in sleep so sweet
Do whisper, whisper of the soul’s delight
And the pinnacle of the mortal’s mind.
I traveled down a chimera path
With eyes gazing at stars who laughed
At my grasp too short, too short to stretch
The length of grasping at their breath.
I passed the shadowed trees of midnight hue
Drenched with angel tears for a covering of dew
Where each glisten was brighter, far brighter than the moon
And bark was marked with unearthly runes.
Was it here? Was I here?
Had my prayers at last been heard?
Was I where the light, the pale light,
And enticing night intertwined?
Would I find where the sea finally embraced the sky?
Or where the well would expose the secrets in Ligeia’s eyes?
Down this path, this chimera trail,
Was there a tapestry of Helen’s tale?
My heartbeat measured in mountains,
And my eyes became as fountains.
A glimpse of paradise, Eden’s grove?
A sea of glass and a sapphire throne?
Was I here at last where peace would overflow
The discontent brim of my weary soul,
And all of my desire, my one desire would achieve
And I, wandering visionary, would be at ease?
I passed the trees, the stars, the chiaroscuro scene,
The flowers, the dew from beings unseen.
My legs carried me faster and faster, like mad,
And doubt was drowned by hope joy-clad.
Had I found beauty?
Had I found life?
The stars, the laughing lights,
Harmonized in melodies of pure delight.
Had a mortal finally come upon the hidden abode?
Of what only offered glimpses in notes or in codes?
In words and sounds and blended colors on a canvas?
In the whispers of God in rivers, oceans, and us?
I rounded the corner, my hand on my heart
As light and colors and music and perfect art
Blinded my vision for an instant, a twinkling instant,
And my eyes adjusted to the floating dust and dreams of a mere existent.