Friday, June 17, 2011

The Dancing Bride

Online here. (You have to scroll down to the bottom; it's the last thing on the page.)

This was the toughest I could find (in the first 100 pages, anyway). Incidentally, these poems go down easy, and I appreciate it; I completely trust this author not to be needlessly obscure. OK, poem.

The narrator of "The Dancing Bride" tells of her surreal adventures: first her parents sell her to a pedlar to buy bizarre appliances (my favourite is "a computer/ that pupped keys to all the doors in the world"--how I want one!), then she escapes the pedlar and goes to live on a mountain (possibly as a princess pine), then the west wind carries her off to make her his bride (I cannot tell if she minds this or not), and finally she returns to dispense warnings to her little brothers and sisters (but they cannot hear her). I spent a while trying to work out whether it was a riddle or allegory of some sort, but I think it's just a good rollicking fairytale/myth.

The last sentence of S2 is "I grew like a princess pine." "I grew like a princess" would make one kind of sense: the narrator is telling a story about growing up to be a beautiful woman. "I grew like a pine" would make another kind of sense: pines are tall and fast-growing. But "I grew like a princess pine" doesn't quite mean either of those things. A princess pine is not a pine, but a clubmoss. Most of it is made of underground roots and runners, and it shoots up little treelets on the forest floor every so often. So I think that to grow like a princess pine is to grow broad and deep, with a lot that's not readily visible on the surface.

I'll finish by highlighting a couple of favourite lines:
  • "I spun/ like maple seeds": I played with maple seeds as a kid; we called them whirly birds. We don't seem to have them in Brisbane, and it was nice to be reminded of them.
  • "I knew my place/ on the mountain": For the linebreak.
  • "I hear the earth whispering/ through the wounds men make": I don't think I understand why, or whether there's supposed to be an explanation, but this is wonderfully creepy.


  1. OK, so I'm not sure where online here is supposed to be, but I am intrigued by what you have said about this poem and this author. Particularly like the last quote.

  2. Whoops; I've edited the link in properly now.