This whimsical scene at Seattle’s Ballard Market the other day made me smile. This pair of poetical hustlers are bittersweet reminders of the plight of poets everywhere.
They brought to mind the funny (but not-too-funny) little poem by Hayden Carruth, written when he was studying and writing about the Japanese haiku master, Basho, who lived and wrote in the late 1600s.
Basho, you made
a living writing haiku?
Wow! Way to go, man.
This pair at the market did not appear to be doing much business, but they were earnest and eager, and I wish them the best.
I saw you first in jonquil time,
When you were bathed in grace.
You sat aglow with fire sublime,
And golden shone your face.
I loved you first in lilac time.
A bloom I plucked for you.
I wrote you verse with song and rhyme.
I hoped you loved me too.
I kissed you first in tulip time,
It must have been a sign.
The buds and we were in our prime
When your two lips met mine.
I married you in daisy time
On summer’s longest day.
We traded rings and heard bells chime.
We pledged always to stay.
Too soon we’ve come to aster time.
The days are shorter now.
Would stealing some be such a crime?
We’ll make it right somehow.
Should we endure ’til wintertime,
The time when flowers sleep,
Dreams we’ll share of a gentler clime
Where we no more shall weep.
Notes: A bit of controversy arose when I last posted this poem. The object of this verse pointed out to me that tulip time generally comes before lilac time, and thus the poem was out of chronological order.
My appeal to poetic license did not, I feel, fully satisfy her. But I have resisted the pressure to revise the poem to make it more consistent to botanical facts. That’s because my recollection of the events of so many years ago was that I was completely and hopelessly in love before the first kiss.
Sometimes we should not allow the facts to get in the way of a good story.
And I did stop by the roadside and pick some lilacs for our first date.
When May Bursts Forth
When May bursts forth all moisture and mirth,
And birds bestir while you are still abed,
With everything bent on fostering birth,
And balmy blossoms like a banquet spread
Call to the wanderer weary and wan,
“Close your eyes and breathe and remember nights
When you lay upon the redolent lawn,
And took your bashful taste of love’s delights.”
For though that time is but a glimmer now,
And keenness of the night is now subdued,
A fragrant echo still awakes somehow,
And stirs again a near forgotten mood.
One kiss with wonder could the world endow.
In one embrace you found all you pursued.
NOTES: The month of May is my personal favorite. My birthday is in May, but even more important, I have a lot of pleasant memories of past Mays.
So brace yourself for an onslaught of slightly sentimental love poems.
©Bobby Ball 2018