Sunday, January 29, 2012

Poetry Monday presents...The Green Need by Emily Ballou

One of the difficulties with Poetry Monday (yes, one week in and I'm kvetching already), is that online attention spans are short and good poems are often long. So I'm not always (or perhaps even often) going to give you the whole text of a poem. It might be, as it is today, an excerpt - just something to whet your appetite.

Today's poem is one I loved the minute I read it, along with pretty much everything else the same book.  I'm talking The Darwin Poems, by Emily Ballou. The book, a kind of biography in verse form, is beautiful and full of exquisite writing and a deep love of its subject. I've reviewed the book in full here.  The poem I've chosen is "The Green Need, April 1882", and I'm quoting roughly the final third of the poem, which is, chronologically, at the point of Darwin's death.

Do let me know what you think, and also please tell me your own favourite poems and I'll chase them down.

Though Montaigne said
we fear pain
for the death it brings, not death
for its pain,

I'd think again
about that equation.  Perhaps not
even death, not even pain.
We fear fear
for it alone is boundless.

Will you hold me, now, like this?
Will you ever hold me as you hold me today?
Your arms so strong, your love
most fierce with unwavering, rising belief.

Will you let me weep
for the salvation of our last moments?
As you wipe my vomit, blood from my beard, my cold sweat,
as you kiss my head and clasp
tightly my trembling limbs to your limbs
I am
in the end just a body
out of its love.


  1. Wow! What a poem! The end gave me goose bumps and is really well written. I have never read this book and I actually love your idea of posting part of a poem, if the poem is long. Just enough to grab our interest! I have added this book to my list- as I love books written in verse, as well as poems. Today I am thinking about Out of the Dust- a book about the Dust Bowl for middle grade readers. The story is told in verse and is very powerful.

    Thanks for sharing! Also- thanks for swinging by my blog!


  2. Hard to comment on this as it set me reflecting both about the thoughts and the way in which poetry achieves so much in the minimum of words. Thanks Maggie. I had to come back after last week and so glad I did.