What Any Lover Learns – Archibald MacLeish
Water is heavy silver over stone.
Water is heavy silver over stone’s
Refusal. It does not fall. It fills. It flows
Every crevice, every fault of the stone,
Every hollow. River does not run.
River presses its heavy silver self
Down into stone, and stone refuses.
Swirling and leaping into sun, is stone’s
Refusal of the river, not the river.
This week’s Friday Influence focuses on this lovely poem by Archibald MacLeish.
What moves me most about this poem is the great use of enjambment and punctuation to create a sense of the poem’s meaning. The poem is only ten lines long but covers eight sentences within them. The start and stop motion of the words play out the tension described in the poem.
Repetition is key as well. These words in particular: heavy, silver, river keep up a certain strike and pressure between teeth and lip which repeats when the poem is read aloud.
I’m a geek. I look for this kind of stuff.
The poem also charms with its parable-like structure. The title leads you in expecting one thing but then you are handed an image, an evocation of tension and loss all in the words.
Small lyric poems are like that: like watching a bug on its back kicking its legs around, that whirred moment when each leg registers to your vision.
In other news, it looks like me and mine will be headed back up to Eugene Oregon at the end of the month. The move is a positive one. We’re gonna go pull those clouds over us and dream it all up again.
I’ll let you know what that means as I find out.
The Friday Influence will continue regardless.