Gold and Silver Hearts

October 28, 2012

They say old hearts do not
like old dreams to go unachieved
and uncalled for. They say,
when the winds blow with a finesse
unheard of, and the trees shiver as if they knew
what was about to befall them,
and the black cats all creep into shadows
even darker than they are—
the toads will be asleep under rocks
no one will ever know the names of,
dreaming old dreams of gold
and silver men, with gold and silver hearts
who can neither dream nor sleep—
nor do they want to.

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6 Responses to “Gold and Silver Hearts”

  1. extrasimile Says:

    Thank you, Thomas. This is kind of disagreement I like.
    Let’s add a little Yeats:
    The intellect of man is forced to choose
    perfection of the life, or of the work,
    And if it take the second must refuse
    A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.

    Perfection in life or the work. Perfectly inappropriate in both cases…but of course, perfectly said.

  2. Thomas Davis Says:

    Jim, I hate to disagree with you, but this is a perfect poem. I say this while agreeing there is no such thing, but why do I have to be consistent?
    What makes this poem is that the mood, the images, and the thoughts are transmuted into gold that stirs the mind, the eye, and the emotions. The lines reach back into human experience and the insanity of the Salem witch trials and the power of the White Goddess via Robert Graves.
    They say old hearts do not
    like old dreams to go unachieved
    and uncalled for.

    I find this to absolutely be true:
    the toads will be asleep under rocks
    no one will ever know the names of,
    dreaming old dreams of gold
    and silver men, with gold and silver hearts
    who can neither dream nor sleep—
    nor do they want to.

    I wrote a sonnet when I was young about Midas turning himself to gold and how that worked out for his heart. Your work is much better here, but the message is much the same–although, good Lord, what a poem!

  3. extrasimile Says:

    Thank you CharlieZero, John and Anna. I have been deep in hurricane Sandy this week, and without cable service to the Internet—though I have to say, we did have electric power, which make us part of the elect. Most of Long Island (90%) lost electricity. And a lot of those people are still in the dark (no metaphor here). Anyway, a couple of points. Charlie (or should I call Mr. Zero)?: this notion of a perfect poem. On the one hand, it’s probably the wrong way to think about poetry—that it could even approach some kind of perfect state. What would ‘perfect’ mean in this context? Plato lurks. (I’m going to use ‘Plato lurks’ in a poem one of these days.)On the other, I find I like the idea of something I wrote as ‘perfect’. It’s not so much that it actually is perfect, it’s that you feel that the adjective applies, that I’ve got the music and the form right, for a change—the music, the form and the sense.
    Anna, I wonder, can anyone really be too awake? Sort of reminds me of the old Jackson Browne song, ‘Doctor, My Eyes.’ –was I unwise to leave them open for so long? My mother, towards the end of her life told me that she simply did not think about the end—and about how she would end up. She had several bouts with renal cell carcinoma and it did eventually kill her. Would it have done her any good to dwell on this situation? But do we really subscribe to the ‘ignorance is bliss’ position? It’s interesting that you take the ‘gold and silver’ trope one step further to ‘gold and silver lives’. Gold and silver: valuable and only of limited use (you can’t eat it, King Midas, etc); beautiful but not alive. ‘Once out of nature I shall never take/ my bodily form from any natural thing/ but such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make/ of hammered gold and gold enameling…’ Thank you again Mr. Yeats.
    John: old hearts, (g)old hearts. A wink is a good as a nod.

  4. Anna Mark Says:

    Perhaps they can neither dream nor sleep because they are too awake, too aware of themselves and of the shadows in their “gold and silver” lives.

  5. John Stevens Says:

    Oh this is splendid, Jim! I love the musicality of the words – partly the repetitions I suppose – and those highly atmospheric images drawn from nature. I cannot think who the old hearts are, or what they dreaming of, but somehow the whole piece speaks to me. Perhaps the old hearts sense the approaching end and worry about unfulfilled long-held dreams. Certainly that makes sense to this old head.


  6. This is a perfect poem.

    🙂


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