Friday, February 28, 2014

Poetry Friday: Poems for a Book Character

Photo by Mary Lee Hahn. May be used with attribution.

I still haven't quite recovered from reading The Goldfinch. (My gobstopped review is here.)

This is a poem the main character, Theo, would appreciate. It fits with his world view. Mine, too, on the days when I choose not to think about the truth of our existence here.

by Wyatt Townley

It's only the body
It's only a hip joint
It's just a bulging disc
It's only weather
It's only your heart
It's a shoulder who needs it
This happens all the time
It's very common
It's unusual
For people your age
For people your age
You're in great shape
Remarkable shape
It's nothing you did
The main thing is
It's temporary
It's only a doll
In a house that's burning

But Theo would also like this one, knowing, as he did, the power of art to change our lives.

Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Stephen Mitchell

We cannot know his legendary head 
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso 
is still suffused with brilliance from inside, 
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low, 

gleams in all its power. Otherwise 
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could 
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs 
to that dark center where procreation flared. 

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced 
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders 
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur: 

would not, from all the borders of itself, 
burst like a star: for here there is no place 
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Anastasia has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week via Poet! Poet!, but on Pinterest HERE.


  1. i agree these are poems Theo would enjoy! I, too, listened to this one... quite an investment of time!

  2. Both poems have killer final lines!

  3. Wow, gobsmacked is right -- what a compelling review and fabulous poems. Sounds like I need to download The Goldfinch immediately! Very cool photo up there, BtW :).

  4. Anonymous11:08 AM

    I think Theo would enjoy the poem, and I love the picture

  5. Oh, I am so intrigued! Reading backwards, the poems give me clues to who Theo might be, and the review tells me to go find out for myself. Thank you, Mary Lee.

    Also, I'm here to let you know that I'm probably the umpteenth person to nominate you for Sunshine Award. You can see my responses to Ruth's award and my questions for the next batch of folks here:

    I would like to experience that 5th grade Community of Readers silence...

  6. I find it such a reflection of your heart that you are selecting poems for a fictional wounded young soul. Is any wonder everyone in the Poetry Friday family adores you?

  7. Cool--I love "Fire." That The Rilke--eh. I know, blasphemy:>) And your Carpe Diem picture is wonderful!

  8. Wow. Your first poem reminds me of the poems at Tabatha Yeatts today. I cant wait to get this book. Your photo is fantastic and I want to know more about it.

  9. Oh, that image is special. I loved Fire, I agree with the others that last line puts it over the top.

  10. Now you're sharing about a character that I know nothing about, Mary Lee, so now I guess I'd better get the book! The poems are complex, irreverent, but clear in the belief. Is that who he is? Thanks for a second & so creative review

  11. I visited your review of Goldfinch. That was quite powerful. I just checked our library database - all 13 books are either on loan or reserved. Wow.

  12. I'm number 192 out of 192 in line for Goldfinch at my library. I may be visiting the bookstore this weekend to feed my need to read this book. Very persuasive review and if these poem would appeal to the MC Theo, then I need to know him better. Thanks for sharing. = )

  13. As you know, I love poems for fictional characters! It's a great way to spend more time with characters you aren't ready to leave :-) You picked powerful ones for Theo.

  14. These poems are both so intriguing. Looks like I better start spending some quality time with The Goldfinch!


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