February is here, and it started with my sister getting married. So, the poems of this month will be around the theme ‘Love and Marriage’. Typical, I know, what with Valentines Day just around the corner. But, I have found that the poets are as allergic to cheese I am!
Here’s an example from Ranjit Hoskoté’s poetry book Vanishing Acts.
The Grammarian’s Marriage Poem
- Ranjit Hoskoté
The most beautiful is the object
which does not exist
- Zbigniew Herbert: ‘Study of the Object’
The most beautiful bride is she who does not exist,
she who bears no heroes, carries no firewood:
the classical absence pinned with jasper brooches,
she who is hope, the high-strung trope
of an extinct rhetoric, her limbs fragile as hieroglyphs
that I must collect with arms thrown wide
as metal detectors. She is a puzzle that I must assemble
into a body of coherent evidence.
The most beautiful bride is music, not sculpture:
she will wear flowers of water in her hair
and sew garlands at nightfall from fistfuls of corn,
gather splashes of stars at her wrists.
In the wilderness of speech, she wll be my farewell
to the sins of too much talk, too much prayer;
in a high-walled town on a plain flat as a palm,
she will absolve me from my crazied pieties
of hindsight. She will be the rain of grace
bursting from the pods of the wishing tree.
She is a sphinx, the most beautiful bride.
Defying the logic of her own riddles,
She will relay me from cuneiform to runic,
cursive to blackletter. So copied from hand
to hand, version to version,
the words of my character are amended:
I will always be other than I am,
a translation of the original text of the tribe
burnt in sacked cities, buried with jewel-hoards,
torn apart by ravening wolves.
She crafts me on her parchment sheaves:
I am no territory but only borderlines
born of her artifice. She writes me even as I write
this marriage poem for her
and I climb out of the dark night
of her beloved body, the most beautiful bride.