Thursday, October 2, 2014

National Poetry Day: Warming Her Pearls

Today is National Poetry Day. I have decided to share a poem which I was taught in school. I am inclined to think that the poets and poems we come across in school are more likely to affect us than those we encounter later on in life. Whether that’s because they’re specifically chosen because of their vivid imagery and memorable themes or because you remember English lessons more fondly once you’ve left them behind, I don’t know… I know that my mum still remembers all the words to the poems she learned in school (I think that was more to the nuns making her chant them repeatedly, though...) and to an extent I still remember mine, do you?
 
I would love to hear about the poets you learned about at school: the poems which made an impact on your younger self. Or perhaps your current self if you’re still at school! 
 
 
 
Warming Her Pearls 
 

 Next to my own skin, her pearls. My mistress
bids me wear them, warm them, until evening
when I’ll brush her hair. At six, I place them
round her cool, white throat. All day I think of her,

resting in the Yellow Room, contemplating silk
or taffeta, which gown tonight? She fans herself
whilst I work willingly, my slow heat entering
each pearl. Slack on my neck, her rope.

She’s beautiful. I dream about her
in my attic bed; picture her dancing
with tall men, puzzled by my faint, persistent scent
beneath her French perfume, her milky stones.

I dust her shoulders with a rabbit’s foot, 
watch the soft blush seep through her skin
like an indolent sigh. In her looking-glass
my red lips part as though I want to speak.

Full moon. Her carriage brings her home. I see
her every movement in my head….Undressing,
taking off her jewels, her slim hand reaching
for the case, slipping naked into bed, the way

she always does…And I lie here awake,
knowing the pearls are cooling even now
in the room where my mistress sleeps. All night
I feel their absence and I burn.

C A R O L  A N N  D U F F Y
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3 comments

Rachel Farmer said...

Great post! It's so true that the poems you learnt in school stick with you the most. We learnt about 'Not Waving but Drowning' by Stevie Smith in school, and I still don't really know what that poem is about, but I love it nonetheless!

I didn't study Carol Ann Duffy in school (we did Seamus Heaney and Gillian Clark instead) but I know other people who really liked her poems..

Thanks again for another cool post! Here's my National Poetry Day post (better late than never :P):
Happy (belated) Poetry Day!

Rachel

Louise @ Reads + Recipes said...

Thanks for sharing your post Rachel! I love that poem too :-)

Eugenie MulberryWhisper said...

That is a beautiful poem - I haven't read it before. Thank you.

I cannot say that the poems I learned at school are stuck with me - not really - probably because my mother taught me to love poetry since I was quite small, and most poems from the textbooks were not my favorite, but at the same time I was reading and memorising others. So it is those other poems that I remember very clearly. I used to read poems to myself before bed. They were mostly by Russian poets, as I am Russian, but there were some English, too.

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