The Sorrow and the Pretty - A Proem 'Upon Trampled Chrysanthemums'
Chrysanthemum in hand
clutched for support:
the pale boy silently leaps. - Warren Falcon, inspired by Basho
They spoke no word,
The host, the guest,
And the white chrysanthemum. - Ryota, haiku master
for the young gay suicides:
escape to chrysanthemum clouds
now too too crowded
On the edge over the bee-loud Blue Ridge valley all apples and manure shining, flashing of green-tailed flies, before further exile, I escaped nightly to work, late ward sits as an attendant at the local psychiatric hospital, wee hours reading poets of the world who like Liu Tsung-yuan - 'just give me fine wine and friends who will often help me pour' - turned woes into ancient hymns and overtones. After one fateful graveyard shift all night reading Basho Matsuo's Narrow Road to the Deep North, in dawn's hut I begot to stumble-bed visions of pagodas and temples, fog-draped mountain passes, high peaks - names like Dismal Crouch and Turn Around Fool - spare anthems such are haiku, chrysanthemums in my head 8 a.m - 'chysanthemum' means 'golden flower, ' 'gold' = chrysos, and 'anthemum' = 'flower' which, by the way, holds an anthem within - with such a mind full I dreamed a Great Mountain voice shouting, 'Go away! ' and that was enough for me. Where I'm not wanted I don't stay so I made plans to flee. I followed my exiled self into further exile, Deep North, a symbolic defiant suicide-by-New-York-City.
All this the above said may make me sound like I was a bad-ass but that's not true. Irreverent, yes. And bluster. Bluster counts here as disguise for I was pretty. Not handsome. Prettiness counts for much in youth, in older age it is (sadly) sacrificed for Beauty.. A necessary assault in order to grow wise. Wisdom comes from loss and blood, always of the Moon.. Even gorgeous buds must go. Nature says it so. And we can and should protest their going but in older age one loses energy to fight so gives in to what is 'just so.' In sorrow sore, in broken mendicant hearts, having touched tenderly and tasted the binding buds, wisdom is born.
But pretty boys make for an awful confusion amongst men, a real trouble, and, yes, violence verily. Men like pretty in their women but find it most disturbing in boys and young men. Then Golden Flowers are crushed, 'righteously' so. Chapter and Verse. Sanctified wrath against sublime wraiths-most-lovely wars and destoys. It is by polite and holy society 'of the male born' considered a duty harsh, justified, manly and rushed, that the feminine is preserved and men are saved from tempting male beauty.
In most forbearing mountains thus I hid my blushing pretty at war with myself (having internalized the Christian cultural fulminant Funda-fomentalism) . But one must not in mountain world surpass even their beauty, or their pretty. They win such wars by time which wears down flesh and minds. Respectful of this then, and gladly, while in their secure embrace, I cultivated both god and verse hunkering down in remote cabin shade. There I braved the pretty and the beautiful by day - the bluet, the rhododendron, the trillium, the mountain laurel - to boldly reveal them ahead of the inexorable shadows that mountains make because that one and only golden Sun, ours, flowers only-danced in shortened pretty skies bluet-blue, because those who know mountains true know that valleys are king and sunlight is brief tip to top, and in the between-brief span brightness stops both Sun and seer mid-afternoons.
And obedient, some of us, the pretty ones (then) , to the sheltering darkness get. Much may be done between 10 a.m and 4 but then shuts the revelation door, the valley/the veil resumes its reign. There both pretty and beauty pander to stained human palettes painfully returning as did I to fire or bulb light for all Beauty burns away to shadow (only in memory Beauty stays) . One develops night vision to see it. Thus did I work the night surrounded by others tears, lost their pretty selves the youths of wards and afterwards, and also those in tenements the old, the homeless Good Will-ed, for such now my verse is bestowal most holy gentle upon their sleeping faces, chrysanthemums each a pretty a beauty, black buds made mad with themselves the blunted social world could not contain.
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Comments about this poem (The Sorrow and the Pretty - A Proem 'Upon Trampled Chrysanthemums' by Warren Falcon )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
William Carlos Williams
(17 September 1883 – 4 March 1963)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
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