I've written many poems that draw on imagery from opera and other classical music, as well as having it in my mind and alluded to in several poems that my poetic soul identifies with the mocking bird-- that it is plain, yet with a spectacular imitative repertoire-- thirty musical patterns, in sequence, from other birds in addition to its own song-- that it sings at night, especially when the moon is full (I have insomnia), and that it co-parents with its mate, generally mating for life-- I like these things about it-- and I no doubt would have mated for life and co-parented had I had the option..
I had been in a quandary over the title of the mss and struggling to achieve some unity among the sections when several things happened at once to point me in a new direction; one was the death of the great diva Joan Sutherland, an idol and indirect mentor of mine in terms of the fact that I am a closet coloratura soprano.
The other was that I discovered that Walt Whitman and I are kindred spirits; he loved bel canto operatic singing which was in an ascendancy and very popular on the East Coast when he was writing, he strove to duplicate singing and the lyric in his work, and, lo and behold, he was inspired early on by the mourning of a bereft mocking bird..
If I had ever realized this, I had forgotten it; it had been years since I had read "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" which has a mocking bird holding forth in it, with numerous references to song and singing, and not until I searched for titles incorporating "mocking bird" did I run across a reference to this magnificent poem. I found his poem so moving that I decided to use part of it as an epigraph, dusting off a draft I had written a few months back; it is now the title poem of my collection-- "A Mocking Bird Sings Bel Canto" (see below).
Yesterday the manuscript fell into place after all of my four-hours a day hard work; suddenly I saw how the relationships among the poems and the sections could work. I told a friend that this book is my love letter to the world. I am very aware that lyric poetry even in the open line is not in vogue in the literary establishment. But I wrote the book that was in me to write, and I hope that at some point it will fall on the right ears and eyes.
I have mentioned off and on at my main blog Loquaciously Yours that I have returned to serious writing-- most of each day-- after many years raising Golden Retrievers and being caught up in other things. I had to give myself permission to start a blog that day last January.
Since that time I've written a number of essays/posts about all kinds of things, one memoir, a novel and now pulled together with new work and from my M.F.A. thesis, two collections of poetry.
I have felt the press of time; I turn 62 this week. The past twenty years have flown by in the proverbial twinkling of an eye. It turned out to be a good thing to write and put things away and then return to them much later, but I wouldn't want to sleep away the time I have left! Please do visit me at Loquaciously Yours as well as stopping by this blog; my new "title poem" follows.
. A Mocking Bird Sings Bel Canto
"Demon or bird! (said the boy's soul,)
Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it really to me?
For I, that was a child, my tongue's use sleeping, now I have heard
Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake,
And already a thousand singers, a thousand songs, clearer, louder
and more sorrowful than yours,
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within me, never to die."
From "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
In the mirror
in the depths of the Met’s
red brocade mouth--Pinkerton
Butterfly dies for love
in her throat
along the curb
that lamps glow at the bottom
There is someone you know
In the undulating windows
out of the past--