Albatross Erased

February 25, 2012

Hence viper thoughts…
I turn from you and listen to the wind.
—S. T. Coleridge

That bird, such a goad to the roaming eye.
Surely, he must see why my rime is for a time
when truth is thought a fiction, not an outright lie.
More like a mise-en-abyme of his flight behind
the symbol for flight, this birth of the body
in a body of words. More like the hemisphere
of the brain, than the globe. Why make a hobby,
of circumnavigation when it’s clear
that fortune should suffice? Fate can be a bread
leavened with lavender and leaves, a mind
of lilac bushes, a perfume that we must dread
to smell, but fate cannot be the albatross left behind.
His destiny is like ours, atop the Southern Cross.
Each day’s beauty of flight, erased. Lost.

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5 Responses to “Albatross Erased”

  1. extrasimile Says:

    That you, Thomas. Please feel better.

  2. Thomas Davis Says:

    I like this nearly sonnet so much that I am not going to over-analyze it for once, Jim. I have been ill, so I’m not sure how much I’m capable of making sense anyway. This afternoon is better than this morning, but my energy is not what it should be.
    What is unusual about this is the poet’s very modern voice, referring back to Coleridge’s voice and the environment of another time.
    my rime is for a time
    when truth is thought a fiction, not an outright lie.
    Then the chinese box thought about the albatross’s flight, both then and now, turning into a symbol
    …birth of the body
    in a body of words.
    My favorite lines:
    …Why make a hobby,
    of circumnavigation when it’s clear
    that fortune should suffice?
    for this is truth here in this time of mise-en-abyme.
    Fate can be many things, but
    but fate cannot be the albatross left behind. The albatross of Coleridge and the albatross of today when truth is thought a fiction, not an outright lie.
    Then the ending couplet:
    His destiny is like ours, atop the Southern Cross.
    Each day’s beauty of flight, erased. Lost.
    What a magnificent sonnet!

  3. John Stevens Says:

    Yes, you’re right: the frame of mind is very modern or post modern, even though the frame for the lines is that of a sonnet. I like it. The albatross bridges the two periods, otherwise far apart, speaking as it does of the epoch of exploration. Three cheers for the albatross!

  4. extrasimile Says:

    I’m pretty sure that ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ is the first poem I read and actually ‘understood’. I remember where I was—the local public library—but I don’t remember the occasion. Homework? I don’t think so. But you have it right. The act of imagination is what I was thinking about, specifically the act of killing the albatross. What were the mariner’s motives here? We don’t quite know. At the same time the poem is a product of European exploration and scientific learning. Darwin, Joseph Banks—that crowd—were expanding the horizons of Europe considerably. The albatross flies the southern latitudes; he is an exotic creature, but not an impossible one. A Shakespearean sonnet? Yes (though one perhaps lightly salted). But I’d have to say the narrator is more post-modern than Shakespearean—or romantic. All that stuff about truth and fiction and lies! Curious that the albatross brings him back to earth, isn’t it?

  5. John Stevens Says:

    It’s impossible to read of an albatross without thinking of the Ancient Mariner, isn’t it? Such a triumph of imagination – I carry a copy on my Kindle as one of those to dip into for pure relaxation.
    But you have a new take on the albatross – and I see you’ve let him loose inside a Shakespearean sonnet. I’m not sure I know what he means to you (he’s a shifting, elusive symbol perhaps and you are playing with Time, Fate, Fiction, Truth) but I relish the closing couplet, and above all that beautiful, melancholy closing line.


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