Tuesday, August 18, 2009
POETRY OF THE HEART
About a month ago I finished reading the book "Savage Beauty" by Nancy Milford, a biography of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. I didn't pick the book to read; it was given to me by my cousin who in the process of moving across country was trying to place her beloved books with people who might appreciate them. It was a huge tome, not one that I would ever have picked to read, but as it turned out it was one of the most interesting biographies I've ever read. Aside from the story it told of the life of this magnificent poet, what really amazed me is the amount of letters, stories, sketches - all kind of paper ephemera - that Edna, her family and her friends saved through the years. Of course she became famous early and I'm sure everyone knew to save everything.
But it got me to thinking of what I have in my "ephemera" file down inside the file cabinet. And the first thing I thought of was a poem written to me in 1953 by a fellow I met in my first year of college. I was a late-bloomer and had not dated much in high school. I lived on campus in a dorm and it just seemed like the potential for dating was unlimited. I'd left a boyfriend at home, and I sure didn't want to tie myself down again very soon. It was certainly, for a shy person like myself, a real testing of the social waters.
The poem I received will forever remind me of a bittersweet moment in my life, and the really nice fellow who wrote it to me. I have never forgotten him. And so I'm releasing this little bit of ephemera from my young life into the space wherever love letters in print go. If I kept it in my own file, it would end up in a trash can when I'm gone! :)
When I behold the beauty of your smile,
A dream at once pervades my solitude.
Yet what I'd wish to be a dream of love
Must change to match the gayness of your mood.
Your laughing eyes no thoughts of fondness bear;
Their twinkle hides the depths I seek in vain.
You chase the blindness from my clouded mind;
My dream must part in lieu of promised pain.
Yet, I perceive a you the crowds have missed--
A you I wish my heart had never known.
Beneath the laughing mask that's plain to see,
Another you -- more beautiful - has grown.
Were I a fool, perhaps I'd risk your scorn;
Perhaps I'd seek my former dreams to test.
But since I know your love will ne'er be mine,
I'll lie and say that friendship suits me best.