Poet Marie Marshall, whose work you’ve seen featured and reviewed here before, wrote a charmingly sardonic collection of Gothic poems, some of which I’d like to feature on the blog this month. I like them because I like Gothic stuff in general — I do, after all, teach an AP English course in Gothic Literature — but also because these poems are contemporary (written in 2010) yet honor a very traditional style that we don’t often see being used in current American letters. (And no, Marshall is not an American; she’s based in Scotland.)
There are some who argue that the state of page poetry has become too esoteric for its own relatability. Maybe. I know there are poets I’ve read in the last few years whose work doesn’t really mean anything to me at all. Perhaps I’m too narrative-bound. Perhaps I just appreciate poetry that is trying to relate to the reader in a human way. Who knows?
Marshall’s poems, several of which I’m featuring here in a series, pay homage to rhyme and meter and form and traditional storylines, but in fresh ways. And that, I believe, has value.
For each night’s revelation here I stand
transfixed, to view the rising of the moon;
I take my aged wooden flute in hand
and play a lifting, lilting, falling tune.
I sound my serenade by softest breath,
in semi-silence, half-afraid to break
by step, by slightest movement, into death
the perfect mirror-image in the lake.
Selena is the secret name I give
myself at this deep, magick time of night;
in castle-clouds and hues of grey I live,
and sigh alone in silver, shifting light…
When sunlight comes, and reds and ochres whirl,
I am a very different kind of girl.