Here is a poem by Katherine Mansfield for today. I love Mansfield’s short stories, and didn’t realize (or had forgotten) she’d written poetry as well until recently. I enjoy how, in this poem, she addresses some clichéd expectations of a love poem, and then upsets them later in the poem, yet still brings the poem to a happy resolution (rather like Shakespeare’s sonnet 130, and I suppose a whole lot of other love poems, too). I hope you are enjoying National (Love) Poetry Month with me. If you have any special poems you’d like to see featured here this month, feel free to leave a comment below.
by Katherine Mansfield
Is love a light for me? A steady light,
A lamp within whose pallid pool I dream
Over old love-books? Or is it a gleam,
A lantern coming towards me from afar
Down a dark mountain? Is my love a star?
Ah me!– so high above so coldly bright!
The fire dances. Is my love a fire
Leaping down the twilight muddy and bold?
Nay, I’d be frightened of him. I’m too cold
For quick and eager loving. There’s a gold
Sheen on these flower petals as they fold
More truly mine, more like to my desire.
The flower petals fold. They are by the sun
Forgotten. In a shadowy wood they grow
Where the dark trees keep up a to-and-fro
Shadowy waving. Who will watch them shine
When I have dreamed my dream? Ah, darling mine,
Find them, gather them for me one by one.