WHEN LOVE WAS VOLUNTARY

Aphro herm 2

When love was voluntary,
And lakes dimmed their mirrors for the moon-lit sky,
And twisted trees were planned by twisted vines,
I could see, by your whisper, by a few poem’s lines,
Whether you were actually mine,
And my heart, by my heart, could soften,
Or be heartless—like a cruel heart with too much wine—
Whenever I wanted, and, if I wanted,
I could dissolve my whole love in one warm bath,
And it would fade, and disappear,
And slip, like a snake, away, without sorrow or wrath.

Ah! When love was voluntary,
And lakes took their time to reflect the sky,
And rivers decided when to be rivers or grass,
I could decide to decline; I could decide to pass
On your grateful face breathing on me, alas,
And clay would voluntarily soften,
Or harden in a hard din of brass;
I could remember what I wanted to remember
And never, never bring you to mind,
Whether you had broken my heart harshly,
Or kissed me and been kind.

 

 

 

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31 Comments

  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 22, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    This is exceedingly, excessively beautiful. I feel this is your best work ever. Complete, whole cloth, seamlessly and without mere seeming in the Romantic tradition. Yay!

  2. thomasbrady said,

    November 22, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    https://www.facebook.com/thomas.graves.9275

    If you go to my Facebook page, Mary, you can hear me read the poem.

  3. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 22, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Thank you!

  4. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 22, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    Oops, I thought I could access Facebook in its public aspect but I don’t have a Facebook account anymore. I just was on Facebook from this April through sometime in September I think trying to get in touch with some of my relatives which didn’t pan out and then I closed my account. Could you possibly post it here or on youtube?

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 22, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      I thought anyone could access a public facebook page, whether they belonged to facebook, or not. I see. OK, I tried dumping it on here from my phone but it didn’t work. I will work on it.

  5. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 22, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Thank you. Part of your page comes up. A couple of books you like, an ESPN channel you like. A couple of towns you lived in but that’s it. I don’t know why this is. However, it did say on the part that came up that you had music on youtube under scarriettmeister and I clicked on a lovely excerpt about Miranda and the Tape Recorder and What Do You Get When You Fall In Love thinking it would be the Dione Warwick song but instead it was an original keyboard instrumental by you kind of like a music box theme slightly gothic in the chivalric aspect of Poe and a very haunting and beautiful tune. Truly excellent. I will happily explore the music clips for now as you’ve posted so many. You have a quality in the music also like Danny Elfman plus Phillip Glass of course in your own signature. A high quality. I liked the tune I heard a lot.

    It is much better than most music out there now and I really mean that.

  6. thomasbrady said,

    November 23, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Thank you, Mary,

    I love my music. So much of it is recorded poorly, and I’m not a ‘real’ musician, but I figure for ‘the song’ or ‘melody,’ I’ll put it out there.

    Lately I’ve been recording on my phone and putting it right on Facebook, and since my phone has very little memory left, I can’t send what I’ve done anywhere else.

    I “sing” and it’s absolutely insane that I can make something nice on a little phone with my untrained voice, but I persist, like a fool, and sometimes, on some very ‘do-it-yourself,’ intimate, quirky level, I LOVE it. Because I do have a knack for writing songs. And my voice is pleasant on a ‘speaking’ level.

    To really know me now, get a Facebook account! I guess that’s the moral of the story at this moment.

  7. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 23, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Well, even before I read your interesting comment here (on your feeling about your own music something I really value as I have my own attitude toward music too in that way) it suddenly hit me that I could sign up for facebook in a kind of evasive way and still have access. I guess I will be eternally peppered with prompts from facebook to follow the steps and add people, etc. but from my last experience with FB it drove me crazy and became a horrible strange many unsplendored thing. I don’t know how long FB will allow me to just be signed on without adding anything but I will try. You have real musical gifts as well as poetic gifts and I’m not even going to add in my usual ameliorating way “in my opinion” because this is just plain fact. Good day to you, best wishes for the day.

    MD

  8. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 23, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Yay! It worked. I listened to your reading. You are most definitely a poet who SHOULD read your verses outloud especially the ones you feel the closest to emotionally. You read your poem exactly, atmosphereically, musically exactly the way it should be read; the phrasing musically, framing of it is wonderful also, the emotion at the end despite your self deprecating joke about “the self pitying…”. So many poets now read their poems (which all kind of sound alike anyway in the same kind of awful intonation which I could imitate but I don’t want to because I would be afraid I would be stuck in it myself. BUT NOTE FOR NOTE IT IS THE SAME WHINE, THE SAME QUERELOUS AND LACONIC AND HORRIBLY WISTFUL THING THAT HAS CREPT IN LIKE SOME KIND OF ALIEN AND LODGED IN THEIR VOCAL CHORDS.

    You however read as if your own soul is speaking, the way any trained dramatic actor would want to read. It is very beautiful. Thank you for the privilege of listening.

  9. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 23, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    “I Had a Dog” a most melancholy, lovely tune sung with feeling. I had a dog too. I kept thinking from the first measure this song in and of itself: could have been a samuel beckett play or character.

    This is truly good. Here’s my theory: record even more (music and readings) than you were going to ever; write more poems than you even in your vast imagination ever conceived of writing. Sooner or later in the scheme of things no matter what it looks like now God Himself will sort out the things said and done with real feeling from the things done otherwise. I have a feeling He’s sick of schlock too.

    To hear a poet read/sing his own works who actually has a speaking voice capable of registering different shades, colours inflections as he speaks the lines is rare. Poets that can do this are rare. I think you do it perfectly.

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 23, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      Mary, thank you!

      I listened to “I Had A Dog” on my ear phones commuting to work this morning! The more I listen to it, the more I like it. It’s a truly haunting and catchy rock number. To think it was recorded so cheaply and simply. I have to say I’m proud of it.

      Mary, I need to hear this.

      People are too busy and overwhelmed to appreciate my stuff, or they expect a perfect, corporate sound and won’t tolerate anything less, or, they need to be told by some ‘authority’ that ‘hey,this is good!’

      I know what I’m up against.

      But what will be, will be.

      I do know I’m good, and it’s so good to hear you say this.

      Tom

  10. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    I like very much what I consider good and I do have high quality standards. So much nonsense is validated now it is mind boggling and very distressing. People often hope they are deep by being simple in poetry and I don’t want to disparage or discourage anyone ever from trying. But if I speak in a general way about it no one will be hurt because they will never think it’s about them. But in music – in music- someone an be simple in a way that becomes profound and you can’t even analyze it technically and figure out how in the world can such a simple phrase evoke such deep and complex feeling in the listener. All the great classical composers could do this. Especially Beethoven. I found in that song about the dog with the same line over and over and the melody that kind of feeling. Other people will maybe find this absurd. I don’t care. I’m just reporting what happened when I listened to it. That is why I say you have a real gift. Hey maybe God put me on earth for more than making people laugh because I always trip over my shoelaces in public. Maybe I’m here to say an encouraging word to greatly underrated artists such as yourself. I don’t mind. (Plus write my own poems). Tis a joy.

  11. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 23, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    I SAW WORDS LIKE CLOUDS AND THEY WERE FILLED WITH LIGHT

    I saw words like clouds and they were filled with light
    with rains with jeweled wings but oh they are floating
    away and who will retrieve them.

    so it is with a lost language when its continent goes under.
    under the beaded waves with the mermaid countenances-
    all that seaweed hair

    and the pearled combs.
    and if my eyes are detached from seeing
    and if my heart is misaligned

    it is because it is the cause the cause my soul:
    these symbols have drowned in the tides;
    the rose reigned images reined in.

    mary angela douglas 23 november 2015

  12. thomasbrady said,

    November 24, 2015 at 1:35 am

    I know what you mean about Beethoven, pushing, pushing against one motif, one melody. I love his music and passion.

    Mary, I love that poem! I’ll keep it in my heart.

  13. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 24, 2015 at 1:55 am

    Thank you Thomas. I remember the day I thought that about Beethoven and I was shocked because all my life I had been taught that he was so complex. Of course he developed his themes in a complex way but the themes and the birdlike phrases here and there in the storms are simple.

    I was very happy with this poem. I just realized kind of funny I wrote this poem about light and clouds and then a few seconds later found your moonlight photo. Very nice coincidence.

  14. thomasbrady said,

    November 24, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    “Words like clouds and they were filled with light” is very powerful.

  15. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 24, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    It felt that way writing it and I was glad they were not weighed (weighted?) down.

  16. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 24, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I meant to say earlier when I got distracted by pictures in the clouds that I appreciated very much your FB shadow photos with their captions like a new art form, a continuing series I guess. I don’t know what you think of this Tom but I really think the poem about the uncle would be exquisite read aloud. Here’s a poem I wrote that turned out to be a windy poem though I really didn’t expect it to when it started out. Isn’t that the refreshing and fun part of writing. I guess that’s cliche but its still true. The feeling of suddenly veering off in a direction and you don’t even know why or that you were going in. Maybe that’s where the observing cloud poets step in elusively and unobtrusively.

    • maryangeladouglas said,

      November 24, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      oops. forgot the poem. Here it is:

      KEEPING SILENCE ON A WINDY DAY

      all lives are unfinished she said
      finishing the seam and seamlessly
      on some cotillion dress

      it’s the brocaded life you’ll always miss
      if you chose the one accented with only crystal
      the slippers to match

      the little little veil
      and you are not held in place as you imagine
      sewing your toeshoe ribbons down but

      slipping away on any windy day
      without your barrettes

      and wondering
      where am I next, never indexed
      and is this passible

      she said holding it up to the light
      a dress of sheer fire shining
      not made to impress but astonish

      how could I answer her
      while I was weeping merely pearls, emeralds, rubies
      and could express, nothing.

      mary angela douglas 24 november 2015

  17. thomasbrady said,

    November 24, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    Wow, that’s nice, Mary. “while I was weeping merely pearls, emeralds, rubies and could express, nothing.”

    Yes, I’m going to record some more poems soon…

  18. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 24, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    Excellent. Something more to be thankiful for (for Thanksgiving). I hope you have a happy one.

  19. Andrew said,

    November 25, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    DANG, Tom –
    You always have the loveliest lyrical ladies gracing your poems.
    This one is stone-cold sexy.
    So is that dusky Indian-looking babe several poems back.
    Do you know all these muse-a-licious maidens personally?

    I’m jealous.

    • thomasbrady said,

      November 25, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      Happy Thanksgiving, Andrew.

  20. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 27, 2015 at 1:03 am

    THE POEM IS SMALLER THAN IT USED TO BE

    the poem is smaller than it used to be
    too small even to fold into a pocket
    to float like a dandelion seed

    indeed it is so small.
    yet the voice reading it is big
    a little quavery knowing it

    may be thought a fraud
    by at least one person in the audience
    who remembers when poems were

    never small.
    why is the poem so small.
    and why is it lauded as though it were not.

    and why does it need such immense applause
    and to bask in the kleig lights before everyone.
    why is it we have landed here

    on this planet that has banished the great poems.
    we the obscure astronauts
    floating near

    the velvet ropes
    outside the clubs
    where the tiny poems hold sway

    if not to say
    this is not Poetry
    this is hardly even a sigh.

    mary angela douglas 26 november 2015

  21. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 27, 2015 at 2:32 am

    On the other hand…

    TO THE PERSON OF LARGE HEART READING THE SMALL POEM

    you had to work yourself up to get here
    standing before strangers;
    your heart in your hands.

    barely able to control the shaking.
    at home you were so sure the
    poem you wrote would endure

    and you dreamed so joyously, if I read it
    surely people will know finally
    what shines in me

    and maybe they will love me for it.
    maybe they will.
    I know they will.

    but now before the faces
    you’ve never seen before in your life
    and in the vastness

    you wish you hadn’t come.
    still you go on
    and your voice is shaking

    and you know there’s nothing
    you can do about it now;
    you, with your small poem

    before the impassive crowd.

    oh why you think did I ever come
    to read my poem out loud.
    but oh I wish and oh I think

    you should take heart
    you, with sorrow trembling on the brink
    and ready to fall

    and critics should just stand apart
    from judging you because
    aren’t we all just children

    in the dark, stuttering-
    waiting for the Angel to come?

    mary angela douglas 26 november 2015

  22. thomasbrady said,

    November 28, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    “you, with your small poem before the impassive crowd.”

    Wow, Mary. You are entering a more expressive, theatrical Edna St. Vincent Millay phase! Very exciting!

    It makes me want to write a poem, Is This Critic An Angel?

  23. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 28, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    As to whether this Critic is an angel of course I would say yes. The angels carry significant and unique messages to mankind. There is a situation where the message cannot be delivered by anyone else. You never hear, at least in scripture of the message being given by more than one angel. Angelic also in the sense that THERE IS NO OTHER WAY for the message to get through. In this sense, every real poet is in a sense angelic; in your case being both poet and critic you seem charged with a doubly angelic task which is highly unusual I think. And difficult.

    When I was writing the poem though I thought first of the Angel of Death but behind that thought was the Angel in the Rilkean sense and I do NOT mean that as an academic pov. I love the duino elegies so much and for such a long time that I’m sure I have absorbed his angels somehow at least my perception of them as in ‘who among the angelic orders would hear me…”

    It could also be the Angel of perfected language where heart, intention and action are one. All these things I felt. But in any poem there is a root system that goes deeper than what I can see or feel or articulate but that I know is there. Not in every poem of course; but in some i feel deeper resonance as I am writing. You know the kind of poem where you almost feel like crying at the end of it unexpectedly. As if the Angel spoke through or delivered the message to You through the poem.

  24. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 28, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    ANGELS WHEN THEY ARE GOOD ARE TRANSPARENT

    angels if they are good are transparent
    so that their message shines; not them.
    they step aside for the Word made clear

    and disappear themselves not even
    into themselves but further away.
    they make no friends but God

    yet they can weep to watch our sleep
    and stir the waters that were still before
    where the wounded come:

    endless streaming over darkened hills.
    do angels dream I wondered; maybe
    you wondered, too.

    or are we their wondering?
    we who still can’t find our way without a nightlight;
    no longer in our infancy.

    and in distress,
    even while laughing,
    are they our looking glass?

    are they the passing breeze?

    mary angela douglas 28 november 2015

  25. thomasbrady said,

    November 28, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    THERE IS NO OTHER WAY

    I like that.

  26. maryangeladouglas said,

    November 28, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    I feel that most about the angels (THERE IS NO OTHER WAY) because in all the angel literature I’ve ever read whether in the Bible or the little stories you see here and there where people feel they have literally been helped or warned by angels the situation is often dire, the neighbors are way across the pasture as the storm arrives to blow it all away or the overall situation just can’t be altered for various reasons by any other human agency. Normal human contact or help in these extreme cases is just not there. Or the person in the angelic mode is the only person conscious of certain tings. It is good for a person to know (but not in a stressful way) that certain things can only be conveyed by them to others. That’s how I feel anyway. I’ve definitely had miracles in my life in really dire circumstances so I’m speaking about this literally. But in this case when there is a catastrophe and angels sent by gOD help you out of it I would rather not see the angels or be helped by them. I would rather just not be in the catastrophe. It’s a igh price.


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