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Friday, July 18, 2008

Poetry Friday: The Black Swan by James Merrill

The Black Swan
by James Merrill

Black on flat water past the jonquil lawns
Riding, the black swan draws
A private chaos warbling in its wake,
Assuming, like a fourth dimension, splendor
That calls the child with white ideas of swans
Nearer to that green lake
Where every paradox means wonder.

Though the black swan’s arched neck is like
A question-mark on the lake,
The swan outlaws all possible questioning:
A thing in itself, like love, like submarine
Disaster, or the first sound when we wake;
And the swan-song it sings
Is the huge silence of the swan.

Illusion: the black swan knows how to break
Through expectation, beak
Aimed now at its own breast, now at its image,
And move across our lives, if the lake is life,
And by the gentlest turning of its neck
Transform, in time, time’s damage;
To less than a black plume, time’s grief.

Interesting notes:
The Black Swan is native to Australia.
The Black Swan Theory states a black swan is "a large-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare event beyond the realm of normal expectations."  Check out the book.
Kelly Fineman is hosting Poetry Friday today.  Go over here for a poetry feast.  


TadMack said...

Oh, cool. I'd never heard of a 'black swan' as an event. Neat, especially since I saw seven white swans this week -- a mother and six babies, all nestled whitely into little feathery bundles. But I'd be thrilled to see a black one, just once...

Cloudscome said...

The child on the bank "hands full of difficult marvels" - how wonderful! Fabulous use of the black swan image. It is so rich.

Sara said...

I like how he's not afraid to gush about the swan, to layer image upon image and let us sort it all out. He really does re-create the wonder of such an event.

Jim D said...

I like it!

Thanks for sharing.

Jim D