Looking Up High: “The Wood of the Self-Murderers: The Harpies, and The Suicides;” the fourth in Linda Chown’s Blake series

The Wood of the Self-Murderers: The Harpies and The Suicides, c. 1824–27 by William Blake. Housed at the Tate. / Public Domain photograph.

 “Colors are the wounds of light.” William Blake

I’m delighted to be able to present to you the fourth in Linda Chown’s Blake-poem Series.  Another treasure … / J.D.

Blake’s art always needs at least one second
seeing. His are other than seeming seems.
Always a mysterious energy barely seen.
When at last I saw the color high up high there
in what seemed a stern monochromatic view,
a soundless forest, every thing forward:
harsh twisted trees under that bright ledge,
warped interrupted colors, grain-stains
of people stuck and fixed,
Then I found Blake’s magic: his veiled circus of color,
a cacophony of sights to touch with your eyes.
He knew so much William Blake did.
He knew that colors are not primarily pretty
but are “wounds of light,” the wounds
of life scratching and rubbing deep.

And up there in that pulsing arpeggio of light infusing color.
Those brazen colors, like in a local circus,
Virgil swept big in pale red, Dante gazing blue, puffed out harpies, all those smirking bloated shapes,
shaky suicides ambiguous in occupied trees.
Blake’s heroic grains of sand vertical, standing:
all his world a sweet melding
among the grain-texture of forest trees

A new life and death infinity in this touch of your hand,
And in this one Blake let life and death be together.
in this blue blur of shapes and sufferings, heads straight, stranded in this strange hypnotic delirium of a lost place and its puzzled peoples. Stuck in trees upside down transgendered. It was an image of how it was
not representational at all.
Blake was too far from particularity
to copy merely, tritely.
This odd aloneness of many gasping, shaken, all transmogrified. It’s a soundless forest, stunned where reality shifted like in an infinity-keen Redwood Forest,
the needles underfoot, crackling to stay. Here as always, Blake votes for all, gives the suicides and the harpies
their darting wound of color, to become more than the label living gave them and held them together with that teasing, penetrating all color.

© 2019, Linda Chown

The other poems in Linda’s ongoing Blake-poem series:

  1. Refections into William Blake’s “Brutus and Caesar’s Ghost,” Linda Chown
  2. Cohering Clashes: Wiliam Blake’s “The Red Dragon and The Woman Clothed in the Sun,” Linda Chown
  3. This New Ending of the Beginning: William Blake’s “The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve,” Linda Chown
Linda Chown

LINDA E. CHOWN grew up in Berkeley, Ca. in the days of action. Civil Rights arrests at Sheraton Palace and Auto Row.  BA UC Berkeley Intellectual History; MA Creative Writing SFSU; PHd Comparative Literature University of Washington. Four books of poetry. Many poems published on line at Numero Cinq, Empty Mirror, The Bezine, Dura, Poet Head and others. Many articles on Oliver Sachs, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, and many others. Twenty years in Spain with friends who lived through the worst of Franco. I was in Spain (Granada, Conil and Cádiz) during Franco’s rule, there the day of his death when people took to the streets in celebration. Interviewed nine major Spanish Women Novelists, including Ana María Matute and Carmen Laforet and Carmen Martín Gaite.

Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton