My Papa’s Waltz” is unquestionably the most anthologized of Roethke’s poetry and a case can be made that much of the reason behind that omnipresence is the room provided within its ambiguity for a multitude of interpretations.
Emily Dickinson possessed the gift of mystic vision, and that vision is displayed brilliantly in this fantabulous little poem that offers a little drama of two butterflies on a magical flight.
Two Butterflies went out at Noon—
And waltzed above a Farm—
Then stepped straight through the Firmament
And rested on a Beam—
And then—together bore away
Upon a shining Sea—
Though never yet, in any Port—
Their coming mentioned—be—
If spoken by the distant Bird—
If met in Ether Sea
By Frigate, or by Merchantman—
No notice—was—to me—
In Emily Dickinson’s “Two Butterflies went out at Noon” (#533 in Thomas H. Johnson’s The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson), the speaker dramatizes an imaginary flight of two butterflies that ease out on an amazing journey.
Emily Dickinson’s mystical vision is revealed in many of her poems, and this one serves as one of the finest examples of that vision. Her gift of mystical sight accompanies her gift for creating little dramas that feature snippets of that sight in poetic form.
Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.
I will lend you, for a little time,
A child of mine, He said.
For you to love the while he lives,
And mourn for when he’s dead.
One Sister have I in our house,
And one, a hedge away.
There’s only one recorded,
But both belong to me.
When I die I want your hands on my eyes:
I want the light and the wheat of your beloved hands
to pass their freshness over me one more time
to feel the smoothness that changed my destiny.
Who’ll sell me a flower today?
I have so many in my heart:
but all clasped
in heavy bunches –
If a word of mine
and you tell me
even just with your eyes
I open wide
in a joyful smile –
but I tremble
like a young mother
who even blushes when
a passerby tells her
her little boy is handsome.
1 February 1933
In December 2, 1938, Antonia Pozzi lay down in a field on the outskirts of Milan and swallowed poison. She died the following day, leaving behind diaries, notebooks and loose pages of poetry, documenting her twenty-six years of life. From these, her father Roberto Pozzi, a Milanese lawyer, selected and edited her first collection, publishing it as Parole the following year.
I’ve had the biggest pleasure of picking up a poetry book which left me shaken and in awe of the raw talent I saw.