Grace Hazard Conkling

(7 February 1878 - 15 November 1958 / New York City, New York)

Cretonne Tropics - Poem by Grace Hazard Conkling

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The cretonne in your willow chair
Shows through a zone of rosy air,
A tree of parrots, agate-eyed,
With blue-green crests and plumes of pride
And beaks most formidably curved.
I hear the river, silver-nerved,
To their shrill protests make reply,
And the palm forest stir and sigh.

Curious, the spell that colors cast,
Binding the fancy coweb-fast,
And you would smile if you could know
I like your cretonne parrots so!
But I have seen them sail toward night
Superbly homeward, the last light
Lifting them like a purple sea
Scorned and made use of arrogantly;
And I have heard them cry aloud
From out a tall palm's emerald cloud;
And I brought home a brilliant feather,
Lost like a flake of sunset weather.

Here in the north the sea is white
And mother-of-pearl in morning light,
Quite lovely, but there is a glare
That daunts me.
Now the willow chair
Suggests a more perplexing sea,
Till my heart aches with memory
And parrots dye the air around,
And I forget the pallid Sound.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010



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