“painted like a fresh prow / stained among the salt weeds”: H.D.’s “Sea Iris”

From our landlady's collection, which is also pretty great.

From our landlady’s collection, which is also pretty great.

One of the many great things about our little corner of neighborhood is the parade of gorgeous, multi-hued irises that line our neighbors’ walkway. The blooms are huge, big enough for me to see the splotches of color from my kitchen window, and they always make me happy. Here’s H.D.‘s imagist poem called “Sea Iris,” which I love.

 

SEA IRIS

I

Weed, moss-weed,
root tangled in sand,
sea-iris, brittle flower,
one petal like a shell
is broken,
and you print a shadow
like a thin twig.
Fortunate one,
scented and stinging,
rigid myrrh-bud,
camphor-flower,
sweet and salt—you are wind
in our nostrils.

II

Do the murex-fishers
drench you as they pass?
Do your roots drag up colour
from the sand?
Have they slipped gold under you—
rivets of gold?
Band of iris-flowers
above the waves,
you are painted blue,
painted like a fresh prow
stained among the salt weeds.

 

You can read more from H.D.’s collection Sea Garden at Project Gutenberg, here. 

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“Silver dust, / lifted from the earth”

It is, perhaps, premature to offer a spring poem from my chair in New England. But the crocuses are blooming — yesterday we counted twenty-one next to the garage — and I wish I had an orchard (romantic, I know, and all the orchard-growers out there will tell me how much work I’d be in for), so this week I’m reading “Pear Tree,” by the Imagist poet H.D. (less mysteriously, Hilda Doolittle).

And, with a pithiness that I hope befits the poet, that’s that.