Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Out of Peony and Blade

Out of Peony and Blade
by Antoinette Scudder
Henry Harrison, New York (1931)

It’s a lovely little volume, a tall, slender, hardcover in black with tan lettering. Sixty-two pages, in laid stock which, to my eye, is a pinkish-orange color. Online references are brief and not too informative; I gather the poet was from New Jersey. The book is in nice condition. I paid a dollar-fifty for it. Here’s the first poem:

Japanese Flowers

Bring me water in a shallow bowl,
Rock crystal or chalcedony
Like the milky curve of the Moon of Frost;
Bring water from a lonely spring
Where the pliant turf is never marked
By any rougher tread
Than the slender hooves of the hornless deer.
Then watch while I unfold
The frail silk paper, while I drop
One by one in the water
These brown and shrunken things—
Queer little mummies of thought.
See them unfold to flower shapes.
They have odd stories to tell
Of things that are old and strange and sad
But still they hold a haunting charm
That may fill a drowsy house
Like the smoky fragrance of leaves
That burn in the autumn dusk.

In the Forum: letters, advertisements, playbills.


Two Tigers said...

What a beautiful poem from someone I have never heard of before! Great discovery, William, and thanks for sharing. It's good to know such things are out there waiting for their right time and champion.

William Michaelian said...

Hello, birthday girl! The journey of these books always amazes me.

Denise Scaramai said...

that gentle and beautiful poem ...

and the book should be charming, according to your description.
These findings are a joy on a daily basis!

a hug

William Michaelian said...

Thank you, Denise!

Old 333 said...

Neat post, William. The future is poetry - and so is the past! So many of us busily decorating the world with words and pictures - no wonder it is such a beautiful place! Scratch the surface of any old storehouse or library, find beauty, pressed between pages hidden in the laths behind old plaster, scraped on the pillar of a cathedral.

Thanks, for another day-brightener -

and blast this left-shift key! Always the first to go. I need tougher keyboards.

William Michaelian said...

And thanks, Peter, for your lovely impromptu poem.

As for your keyboard, you might try a lighter hammer.