Posted by: John Looker | 26 June, 2016

Bottom Remembers Love

 

From Wikipedia. Titania adoring the Ass-headed Bottom. Oil on canvas by Henry Fuseli, c. 1790

 

All them years ago – but still each day
she’s flitting in and out of my dreams … her eyes
like pools at night full of the moon and stars,
her smile pure sunlight waking in the east.
She smelt of summer meadows, and when she spoke
her voice, soft and fierce, flew like an owl
hunting. I tell you I froze, while the hairs on my head
stood up, and they (you know what I mean?) weren’t all.
You’re right of course, they laughed and called me an ass.
Me and her, we come from different lives,
like trees that were stood on opposite banks of a river
leaning, weaving our branches, blossom, leaves.
       What could we be to each other? She were the rain
       falling on wheat … and me warm air lifting the lark.

 

© John Looker 2011

This is the last in a series of five poems which are my offering in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. This one was first published in 2011, posted at the time (as now) to mark the midsummer solstice.

Here in the UK there are currently several theatres staging A Midsummer Night’s Dream. For those who may be unfamiliar with the play, Bottom was one of the comic characters who, under enchantment, was given an ass’s head; Titania, Queen of the Fairies and herself under a spell, fell in love with him until released from the enchantment.

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Responses

  1. Love this very much.

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  2. Wonderful to read…and from 2011? I admire your dedication and talent. I really enjoyed this poem and the image, too. It draws me in to think about love, the attraction of opposites. In my experience of love, the “ass” part of humanity never leaves…love only widens. Good thing!

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  3. Love it John.

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  4. I love this poem, John. Even though I have read and re-read it countless times each year, it never ceases to delight me. It has everything a poem should have ( I declare, refusing to analyze what is loved). The diction is priceless; the whole poem sensuously IS that rain, that warm air, that lark…and makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

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    • You are very kind, Cynthia. I am very pleased that it has passed the test of time for you — and glad that there’s a laugh in it, as I think the play is both touching and funny, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The image of her voice as an owl, hunting, takes the breath away. It also describes the poem as a whole with its subtle handling of the iambic line. This lovely poem illustrates a truth lost on many contemporary poets: the poetic sense par excellence is the ear with its intuitive sense of how human truth, implicit in desire itself, unfolds in time.

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    • That is most generous of you Tom – thank you for such an encouraging comment, and I like your general observation about the poetic ear.

      Like

  6. Wonderful. Love the final two lines especially. Shared on the BB FB page 🙂

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  7. What a winner, you do Shakespeare proud! Now this is real poetry!

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    • Thank you – it was rather a risky project.

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  8. If delight were a bird, John Looker would go out in the early morning with a net of air and whisk it into a poem.
    If every ass could, for even a moment, enchant into love
    and feel the wonder of beauty beyond hairs (and other parts) standing up off his skin,
    then John Looker would bottom up the world and turn it into magic.
    If Bottom is the warm air beneath a lark’s wing, lifting it into the sky,
    then John Looker is a net that captures poetry and turns it into a river
    that never ends, never end.

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    • Thanks Tom – you had me laughing there, and feeling far more like Bottom than ever!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry Anna – I thought I had replied to you earlier. Thank you for your generous comment.

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  10. John. Sorry I’m a little late on this one. My Bottom’s gone. (Ok figure out that one, if you will.) Anyway, with Tom D’Evelyn I lost my breath with ‘flew like an owl hunting’.
    This poem is quite amazing. From ‘all them years ago…’ right down to ‘And me warm air lifting the lark’? From 2011? Was I reading your poems then? I don’t remember it.
    It’s a pity you didn’t keep that voice going. Obviously it is congenial to you. (I won’t ask where your bottoms are.)
    By the way I saw an old film version of Julius Caesar (1953) the other day with Marlon Brando as Mark Antony. He completely threw my understanding of the “Friends, Romans, countryman “ speech out the window. I can’t say I liked his performance, but it was interesting. The whole first line said the a rush of air. Instead of a pause after each word/phrase. You might check it out, if you’re not familiar with it.
    I just read an interesting book the other day, “The Hatred of Poetry” by Ben Learner. I recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jim – thanks a million.
      Marlon Brando would obviously have thought through that delivery and lived it for real, but that sounds an odd way to launch into that speech. I always think of it as separate cries with long pauses as Mark Antony tries to capture the attention of the crowd, his voice steadily reducing in volume as he succeeds.
      I have a feeling I’ve read about Ben Learner’s book, or come across an extract, but I don’t remember reading the book itself. I should; I’ll look for it.

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  11. Cleverly written, John. Made me smile, especially after reading your explanation. It’s been many years since I’ve read this particular play by Shakespeare but “Bottom” comes back to me now. Enjoyed very much!

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  12. Amazing! Love this .
    Lynda ❤

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    • Thank you so much Lynda. It’s one among several that has been selected for inclusion in an anthology to be published in the USA next year.

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