Today I'm reading 'Aurora Perpetua' by , from the Spring 2014 issue of Ploughshares
This poem is too gorgeous not to share. If I'm asked to take it down, I will, but here's the full poem in all its twelve-line glory. I'll encourage you up front to go and online or in stores to help support poets and journals of such high quality. OK, here's 'Aurora Perpetua':
O tulip, tulip, you bloom all day and later sway
a deep-waisted limbo above the dinner table,
waiting for a coin to drop into your well,
for the stars to pin your stem to their lapel.
Soon, on ocean winds, dawn cries its devotion,
our world entranced once more into being.
Let go your sumptuous rage, darling.
All this awed awakening is a form of adoration.
What's born in that fountain of salt and spume,
of spackled sea monsters and gardenia perfume,
is everything blossoming ever amounts to:
an hour of earthly nectar, a single drop of dew.
-- Campbell McGrath, Ploughsharesbuy Ploughshares
Part of me is skeptical of such a perfectly musical poem. 'Is the prettiness of it covering up nonsense? Is there really any thought in this poem?' But I think there is thought. The individual tulip, representative of the fleeting moment of beauty, the small triumph, is being shown its source in the great 'fountain of salt and spume'. The tulip wants to be exalted; the momentary wants to become eternal. But it needs to be reminded that the eternal is its source; it is a drop of the eternal, made of the same stuff as the eternal, consubstantial with it. No need then, tulip, to wait 'for the stars to pin your stem to their lapel.' In other words, you don't need to be taken up to perfection, because you are the scion of perfection.
'Let go your sumptuous rage, darling.' How many of us are waiting for something to take us up and make us great? How many of us secretly despise, from time to time, the smallness of our lives? 'Let go your sumptuous rage, darling.' How many of us erase little poems we've written, throw first attempts at writing a novel in the trash because we're unhappy with them? How many of us don't bother to be patient or kind or gentle because, you know, what difference does that make in the big scheme of things? 'Let go your sumptuous rage, darling.' Don't pity yourself and indulge your sumptuous rage and wait until morning for another opportunity; the morning is always already arriving.