Conrad Potter Aiken

(5 August 1889 – 17 August 1973 / Savannah, Georgia)

Zudora - Poem by Conrad Potter Aiken

Here on the pale beach, in the darkness;
With the full moon just to rise;
They sit alone, and look over the sea,
Or into each other's eyes. . .

She pokes her parasol into the sleepy sand,
Or sifts the lazy whiteness through her hand.

'A lovely night,' he says, 'the moon,
Comes up for you and me.
Just like a blind old spotlight there,
Fizzing across the sea!'

She pays no heed, nor even turns her head:
He slides his arm around her waist instead.

'Why don't we do a sketch together--
Those songs you sing are swell.
Where did you get them, anyway?
They suit you awfully well.'

She will not turn to him--will not resist.
Impassive, she submits to being kissed.

'My husband wrote all four of them.
You know,--my husband drowned.
He was always sickly, soon depressed. . .'
But still she hears the sound

Of a stateroom door shut hard, and footsteps going
Swiftly and steadily, and the dark sea flowing.

She hears the dark sea flowing, and sees his eyes
Hollow with disenchantment, sick surprise,--

And hate of her whom he had loved too well. . .
She lowers her eyes, demurely prods a shell.

'Yes. We might do an act together.
That would be very nice.'
He kisses her passionately, and thinks
She's carnal, but cold as ice.


Comments about Zudora by Conrad Potter Aiken

  • Gold Star - 13,409 Points Terry Craddock (4/2/2015 2:16:00 AM)

    This poem is exceptionally well written, the romantic setting leads into an attempted early passionate pickup, which she resists with indifference. The next lines sketch in unexpected detail, the songs she sings so well, which her would be lover suggests they sing together, were all four written by her late husband especially for her. The tension rises, because this revelation follows 'She will not turn to him- will not resist. Impassive, she submits to being kissed.'
    A dramatic secret is now revealed as 'She hears the dark sea flowing, and sees his eyes Hollow with disenchantment, sick surprise, - ' and if we are scanning the lines carefully; we might be stirred to ask why her former husbands eyes were hollow with disenchantment and sick surprise.
    The reason is a confession, he discovered her in a discretion 'And hate of her whom he had loved too well...
    She lowers her eyes, demurely prods a shell.' Thus her guilt is confirmed. This sets up the final stanza, her acceptance of being seduced as she conversationally answers 'Yes. We might do an act together.
    That would be very nice.' Her admirer in his lust has totally missed the meaning of her

    You know, - my husband drowned.
    He was always sickly, soon depressed...'
    But still she hears the sound

    Of a stateroom door shut hard, and footsteps going
    Swiftly and steadily, and the dark sea flowing.

    It seems clear her husband caught her in a carnal act, stormed out and drowned in the sea, possibly because he was not strong physically or was it an intentional suicide. The conquering love makes his move 'He kisses her passionately, and thinks She's carnal, but cold as ice.' We the discerning reader know why 'Here on the pale beach, in the darkness; With the full moon just to rise; ' she is untouchable with a heart as cold as ice. Because she sings the songs he wrote her so often and so well, her past husbands death seems to haunt her. The setting implications and unravelling of this tale is brilliant, Zudora was caught in the act and is still coldly compulsively, reenacting her act of carnal desire. (Report) Reply

    4 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Silver Star - 3,043 Points Luis Estable (4/2/2015 12:59:00 AM)

    This poem is well-written, and I like many aspects of it such as the rhyme-scheme and the diction ulitized..

    Despite its beauty, it reads somewhat sad, and the end is worthy of a tear or two. There is nature invloved here as well as human emotion which make this try worthy of two or three readings. I for one read it three times. I felt that I needed to do that to get all that the poem has to say.

    Luis Estable (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 1,054 Points Michelle Claus (4/2/2014 6:16:00 PM)

    Intriguing scene and story, but I don't like the final line. It reduces the emotional swell. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: husband, sea, beach, together, moon, sick, dark, hate, alone, night, kiss, rose



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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