Love in Ancient America


Recommended Posts

They held you high and kissed your cheeks

and anointed you and chained silver

on your neck and tied an anklet

of leather around your leg

before they wrapped you in cloth.

Threads of it still hold color.

The sun shone on you that day.

They bound you in a high cave

with presents for some god.

The moon greeted them that night.

They sang and danced and prayed.

You were their icon, their sacrifice, their daughter.

They killed you.

Did you love them?

Edited by Dan Ust
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's a fine poem Dan; it builds up by degrees to that bitter-sardonic twist at the end.

You have a collection of these? Show more.

Tony

(My quibbling eye caught "annointed". :) )

Link to post
Share on other sites

They held you high and kissed your cheeks

and annointed you and chained silver

on your neck and tied an anklet

of leather around your leg

before they wrapped you in cloth.

Threads of it still hold color.

The sun shone on you that day.

They bound you in a high cave

with presents for some god.

The moon greeted them that night.

They sang and danced and prayed.

You were their icon, their sacrifice, their daughter.

They killed you.

Did you love them?

I don't see any reference to America. Can you help me out?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see any reference to America. Can you help me out?

Think denotation vs. connotation.

It denotes something like this (warning, very brutal):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYqEi2d9zEc&feature=related

It could easily have referenced Jepthah or even Isaac, but then the reference to “America” wouldn’t work.

As to connotation, can you think of parallels in contemporary America? I can’t think of any that are nearly as bad…how about progressive education as Rand describes it in The Comprachicos?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dan--

Poetry is very difficult. I remember when I came down here to Florida, running on the rag. It was a difficult moment; I had only a limited amount of things that I could take with me. My miniature pinscher, in an ATA-approved travel bag. Even then, I was nearly strip-searched in the Philadelphia airport. I think they took this totally non-profile guy in front of me because they didn't want to deal with me and the dog. Anyway, the other items I chose were simple: a copy of Strunk/White's "The Elements of Style," and a copy of James Michener's "Hawaii" (which I still haven't gotten around to read past the first two chapters). This was, in the end, rather badly-chosen reading material, if you think on it. Now, I understand why they have those things called "airport novels." Maybe I should write one, because even though it might compromise moral values, at least it would give poor bastards something to do when they are being deprived of oxygen, and experiencing varying sorts of claustrophobia. Airline peanuts become extremely important, for some reason. The strange ritual of the cart, bearing soft-drinks. I think it was better in the old days, when you could smoke cigarettes and drink martinis. The one other thing was a slim volume of e.e. cummings--"etcetera." This is some of the most beautiful poetry that I have ever seen written. It comforted me on my long journey; I read his love poems when I saw the State coming into my vision.

Anyway, I digress.

It is beautifully-crafted poem: every word in place. The imagery holds strong. And the rhythms are good. And there is a nice nod to archetypes. Just a fine piece of work, really. Others will question it, without having written any of their own.

I will admit that I was, af first, curious about your title--that is a big undertaking. I was thinking about Joseph Campbell, things like that.

Poetry is a rare thing. To attempt it alone requires great self-confidence. In the end, the work speaks for itself, and I believe you have done this quite well. Do some more!

Finest Kind,

rde

Edited by Rich Engle
Link to post
Share on other sites

The irony of the title would have been more obvious by adding italics - "'Love' in Ancient 'America'", but subtlety would have suffered.

Once you've made the slightly tenuous link between the Americas, the rest falls into place: Taking the finest and most innocent of one's nation, and dedicating their lives to the good of the 'people'.

Rand meant this precisely when she used the word 'sacrifice'.

I read the poem as allegorical about today's altruist-sacrificial premises.

Especially and directly in the USA.

But at least it's done with 'love'...they will kiss your cheek as they screw you over and cut your throat.

Tony

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's a fine poem Dan; it builds up by degrees to that bitter-sardonic twist at the end.

You have a collection of these? Show more.

Tony

(My quibbling eye caught "annointed". smile.gif )

Thanks and typo corrected.

Link to post
Share on other sites

They held you high and kissed your cheeks

and annointed you and chained silver

on your neck and tied an anklet

of leather around your leg

before they wrapped you in cloth.

Threads of it still hold color.

The sun shone on you that day.

They bound you in a high cave

with presents for some god.

The moon greeted them that night.

They sang and danced and prayed.

You were their icon, their sacrifice, their daughter.

They killed you.

Did you love them?

I don't see any reference to America. Can you help me out?

Ba'al Chatzaf

I'll chalk that up to a failure on my part -- viz., that your focus is on the title to such an extent that that's all you care to comment on about it. I'd thought it was obvious, but I guess this is a major problem with writing: what obvious to one person might not be so to another.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see any reference to America. Can you help me out?

Think denotation vs. connotation.

It denotes something like this (warning, very brutal):

http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

It could easily have referenced Jepthah or even Isaac, but then the reference to "America" wouldn't work.

As to connotation, can you think of parallels in contemporary America? I can't think of any that are nearly as bad…how about progressive education as Rand describes it in The Comprachicos?

Connation, of course, can be much more subjective. What one person connotes by something might differ widely from another. Think of, e.g., the word "liberal."

Link to post
Share on other sites

The irony of the title would have been more obvious by adding italics - "'Love' in Ancient 'America'", but subtlety would have suffered.

Once you've made the slightly tenuous link between the Americas, the rest falls into place: Taking the finest and most innocent of one's nation, and dedicating their lives to the good of the 'people'.

Rand meant this precisely when she used the word 'sacrifice'.

I read the poem as allegorical about today's altruist-sacrificial premises.

Especially and directly in the USA.

But at least it's done with 'love'...they will kiss your cheek as they screw you over and cut your throat.

Tony

Nothing can be done to prevent such a reading.rolleyes.gif

This reminds of something a friend once told me about James Wright. Wright was asked something about Vietnam and he said something like he never wrote a poem about it. Then his interlocutor said something like, "But wasn't your 'Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio' about Vietnam?"

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dan,

Reminds me of years ago my photos were on exhibition, and a man approached me, praising a pic - said it obviously illustrated Man overcoming gravity, conquering Nature, or somesuch.

I just looked at him bemusedly and said: "it's only a surfing photo, man."

Now, I wonder...

Who knows what inspired you for this poem, except maybe <_< you, yourself.

Tony

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dan,

Reminds me of years ago my photos were on exhibition, and a man approached me, praising a pic - said it obviously illustrated Man overcoming gravity, conquering Nature, or somesuch.

I just looked at him bemusedly and said: "it's only a surfing photo, man."

Now, I wonder...

Yeah, that's kind of the same thing. You don't know what connections someone else might make. You can, of course, make some good guesses. Were that not possible, then intentional allegories and allusions would, at best, be successful by chance alone and then so rarely as to probably preclude anyone from making the attempt.

Who knows what inspired you for this poem, except maybe dry.gif you, yourself.

Tony

The trigger for me was not anything mentioned so far, though ND was close. I'm not trying to play games by not telling here; I just find it much more interesting to see how people have read the poem than to give it all away. I actually thought it was much more obvious, but this is really the first time I've had any responses from such a diverse crowd. (The usual response I got to it before was of the "that's nice" variety.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now