July 3, 2011

My Love, My Own… #PoetrySummer, Week 5

This week for #PoetrySummer, I memorized and recited a sonnet from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese–Sonnet 38 (XXXVIII), to be precise. Like last week, this is a poem from my grandma’s household poetry book, which I own now. I remember reading it at her house as a teen, well before I had received (or given) a kiss. (I was not a late bloomer, OK? I bloomed early. I was just too shy to take advantage of it.)

I think it was the ring of amethyst that got me, that and the chrism of love.

FIRST time he kissed me, he but only kissed
The fingers of this hand wherewith I write;
And ever since, it grew more clean and white,
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its “Oh, list,”
When the angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight,
Than that first kiss. The second passed in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half missed,
Half falling on the hair. O beyond meed!
That was the chrism of love, which love’s own crown,
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede.
The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state; since when, indeed,
I have been proud and said, “My love, my own.”

OK. I’m pretty sure I adored the thought of a kiss “folding down” upon my lips as well.

I had no idea what a chrism was when I first read this poem, and to be honest, I didn’t remember for sure when I picked it up again for this challenge. After double-checking, I confirmed it means “an anointing.” It is one of those words that sounds exactly as it should. (FYI: There is a consecrated oil called chrism oil and also a Chrism Mass.)

If, like me, you do not recall the word meed, it means a reward.

I have to say though, the following part stumps me: “…quick with its ‘Oh, list,’ when the angels speak.” If you know what she’s getting at here, please tell me.

In keeping with the intention of my blog, I need to be posting about subjects other than #PoetrySummer. A few days ago, I posted some paragraphs I had written that day for a work in progress, but I took the post down minutes after publishing. I can’t say why, but sharing such new work made me sad. Is that normal? I felt I was fishing for feedback and betraying myself.

And now I feel melodramatic.

On a side note–I love Lamb. It is nothing at all like I expected. I’m especially surprised by how touching it is. (The scene in which Biff carries a lamb to the temple at Passover is such a quietly powerful scene. I’ll never forget it.) I can’t wait to write a post about this book, but I should probably be taking notes as I read. I know I’ll forget something wonderful–that I’ve already forgotten many wonderful things. It might be one of my favorite books at this point, but I hesitate to say so when I’m only halfway done.

As I mentioned in the previous sentence, I’m halfway done, but I haven’t asked David to draw my next group of book-suggesters yet. We ate at Little Tokyo last night and it dawned on me that some day this year, I’ll have to gather the courage to ask the waiter/waitress and the sushi chef and the hibachi chef and all the nice men who bring us water and remove our napkin wrappers what they think I should read. They’re all very nice, but I’m worried they’ll think I’m weird. I know being weird is something I should accept about myself at this point (after all, I’m 35 now), but I hate the thought of them furrowing their brows behind the curtains and that porcelain cat on the sushi bar waving me goodbye.


I enjoyed the poem and the vocabulary lesson. I’d never seen meed or chrism before. List is listen.
There are several synonyms for weird. Rare or unique are better descriptors for you. My mother is also terminally romantic.

by Bob Bryant on July 3, 2011 at 11:27 pm. #

Thanks Bob! List makes much more sense now. I thought her hand might be taking down some sort of to-do list from the angels.

by wendy on July 4, 2011 at 12:09 am. #