ARTIST : unknown Chinese artists
ARTWORK : ancient Chinese coins
My coin-inspired poem “On a Twentieth Anniversary” was published in issue 7 of The Innisfree Poetry Journal. I thank the journal’s editor for his professional guidance with the text. Look for the poem HERE.
ABOUT THIS POEM
My goal when composing any poem is to craft a passage of spoken language supersaturated with both sound and sense.
The lines at the heart of the poem, in the center, are the most musical : “eludes” and “grooves” ; “yours” and “enduring” and “figures.”
In this poem I employ a device which I noticed once in another poem : I play the sounds of the first line against the sounds of the title. I pair the short e vowels in “twentieth” with “decade,” and the short i vowels in “anniversary” with “lived.”
Throughout the poem, I strive to create a quiet, intimate tone in accordance with the wedding anniversary theme. The poem is small, like a coin : something to hold, to pass from hand to hand.
This poem is an occasion poem, written for a particular event. One of the conceits of the poem is “Love as Accounting” : counting coins as well as years, and recounting ancient currency as well as memories.
One of the small ironies of the poem is that poetry is, after all, one way to put Love into figures and words. Irony is one kind of figurative language.
With the phrase “the metal / of marriage” I evoke (perhaps too subtly) the word “mettle.”
I have wanted to write a poem inspired by some kind of metalwork ever since I discovered that the earliest ekphrastic passage recorded in Western literature is the description in Homer’s Iliad of the metal shield of Achilles. In a very small way, my poem here continues that lineage.
FACT and FICTION
The poem is autobiographically factual.