A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Poem of the Day: Laura Riding

With the Face 

With the face goes a mirror
As with the mind a world.
Likeness tells the doubting eye
That strangeness is not strange.
At an early hour and knowledge
Identity not yet familiar
Looks back upon itself from later,
And seems itself.

To-day seems now.
With reality-to-be goes time.
With the mind goes a world.
With the heart goes a weather.
With the face goes a mirror
As with the body a fear.
Young self goes staring to the wall
Where dumb futurity speaks calm,
And between then and then
Forebeing grows of age.

The mirror mixes with the eye.
Soon will it be the very eye.
Soon will the eye that was
The very mirror be.
Death, the final image, will shine
Transparently not otherwise
Than as the dark sun described
With such faint brightnesses.
--Laura Riding

Time, mortality, identity, memory -- such grand themes. And they're all here in a poem that's both simple and intricate, as it would have to be to contain them. The obvious comparison is to Emily Dickinson, but though Riding is also inevitably linked with the Fugitives and with Robert Graves, she is her own considerable poetic self.