Tuesday, June 30, 2009



On the steps
of the museum,
I sit pondering
our times,
when Pushkin
breaks in with his
melodic language,
a blend of Slavonic
and vernacular Russian.

The bits of years,
that lay hidden
and closed off,
are suddenly free.
They fly up from
my lap in a powder
of everyday words
that intoxicate me.

I cry for
Eugene Onegin.
“Life is so unfair,”
I say to comfort him - and,
"You hang in the
balance between
fiction and real life!"

Walking home
late in the afternoon,
I stop by the pond
to watch the reflections
of the swans, and not
the swans themselves.

There is something
about their reflections,
those watery
forms of expression.
I know what they are
when I see them,
but they are still unclear -
sort of like
19th century Russia.


Catvibe said...

I love that you are looking at the reflections and not the swans themselves. I love this, the way it feel as I move through it. Wonderfully romantic.

Karen said...

Ah, Kaye, where did the time go? I wonder how we can have gotten to here? So many yesterdays, "hidden and closed off." The blur between fiction and fact, the life lived somewhere between a dream and a dream, the blur in the eyes for all the Eugene Onegins we know and are... This makes me feel very sad for many reasons.

Julie said...

So beautiful! Your poems always make me think deeply, and I love it! You wouldn't believe the number of nights I lay awake thinking of one of your poems. This one will be no exception! I agree with Cat about the reflections. I love that you are looking at them.

The entire feel of the poem is like a reflection on life, a slow looking back, a pondering. What beautiful flow you have. Oh, my gosh, how I love this:

"The bits of years,
that lay hidden
and closed off,
are suddenly free.
They fly up from
my lap in a powder
of everyday words
that intoxicate me.".

Very powerful, as always!

joaquin carvel said...

i know almost nothing about 19th century russia. but i know that sometimes everything can feel like the 19th century russia in this poem. which does not offer much in the way of confidence - but as you have so beautifully pointed out - can be far more compelling.

Yamini said...

"I stop by the pond
to watch the reflections
of the swans, and not
the swans themselves."

Beautiful :)

Great Blog :)

Aniket said...

It so reminded me of the song from Mulan "When will my reflection show, who I am inside..."

The feeling of stuck in between has been beautifully portrayed. But I don't know if I want a reality check or to realize that the world of fiction is a mirage. For now am content to be in between the worlds. But sooner or later we must ask the questions we don't want the answers for.

the walking man said...

I am beginning to hate the way I read everything with an edit eye first,

Slavonicand (yes I know it's a university but...)


It is so damn distracting and I need to re read totaste the flavor you will me to have K.

What I really enjoyed was the two comparisons Pushkin and his Onegin and the Museum and the pond.

Though the thinking in the moments of encounter was different they were the same. The museum (time) showing at best the reflection of Pushkin and his writing and the pond showing you not the swan but the art of it as it lives it's own will.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Cat - thank you so much. Yes, looking at the reflections, in that, I see a representation of what is real. Just as in life, we know what we see, but things can be vague sometimes. It was my reflecting upon Pushkin's novel done in verse (Eugene Onegin) and his life, I guess, that I was trying to piece together. Many thanks for your wonderful enthusiasm, as always!

Karen - Thanks so much for your thoughts. I know what you mean - Sometimes, I wish I weren't as questioning as I am. I wish that I could just let things be the way they are and not look for a deeper meaning - How did Whitman put it - "I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars." There is always something more to things. You know how I have always been...you are the same. LOL

Julie - What a nice compliment - to say you think of my poems. Honestly, no better compliment can be paid. Thank you. Yes, this poem is about pondering life, poetry, and literature - and back to my very own life again, as it relates to world literature. (the swan and Pushkin) I don't travel the world by foot, but by artists and poets. That passage that you sited is actually about opening up an old volume of Eugene Onegin. Its mustiness, my intoxicator. Pushkin's words an elixir. Thanks very much for the great comments.

Joaquin - It is so wonderful having you back! You were sorely missed.

Well, I don't know anything about 19th century Russia either. I guess Pushkin just got me to thinking. lol - interesting how his writings were mostly intranslatable, so he didn't have that great an impact on world literature - but, he is Russia's Shakespeare. His romantic narratives are a must. His comtemporaries were Goethe and Byron. But, I read where he was influenced greatly by Voltaire,
(the ironic wit I suppose) I guess, as you can see, I am on a Pushkin high right now. Oh - and another fascinating thing - to me at least - he died after being wounded in a duel - over his wife. His character, Onegin, fought a duel too - but, won.

Thanks so much for adding your illustrious voice to the commentary.

Yamini - Welcome to OMM. I appreciate your coming by and leaving a nice comment. I'll visit you soon.

Aniket - I love how you are able to relate works so adeptly. I think many artists and writers hang in that balance between the two worlds of fiction and non - i.e. their lives. You are right not to ask the questions - so many are defeated by the answers!

WM - for some reason the original post as shown in the comments section is messed up. Take a look at the original post as it appears on the blog page. "Slavonic and" and "between fiction" are correctly separated - but, messed up on the comments page. I don't know how that happens, but like I said, check out the original. It is correct. The sad part is - I can't correct it on the comments page!!!

Anyway - edits aside, Yes, the reflections of Pushkin and the comparisons to his life and that of Onegin's are the gist of this -many similarities, ironically. And...the reflection of the swan is a representation of the art of the object - as in Pushkin's life. The old question - does life imitate art or does art immitate life. I believe it is one big symbiotic event. Also, the reflection of the swan is my attempt to relate a vague understanding of the era, politically more than literary. His feet were held to the fire of the political machine, unfortunately. Many thanks for your very astute comments.

Joseph said...

Beautiful! And I totally dig the nod to Eugene Onegin - one of the foremost pinnacles of verse in history. You honor it well. :)

Bob said...

"They fly up from
my lap in a powder
of everyday words
that intoxicate me." ... damn, Kaye, lol... that is brilliant... jealous again, hehe... I love your work!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Joseph - I am studying Pushkin and his poetry this summer. I guess I am a little enamored. Does is show? Thanks a bunch for the kind remarks.

Hi Bob - hahaa - You needn't be jealous of anyone, my friend! But, thank you so very much. You made my night!

Jenny said...


Oh, this is such a delight to read! It describes the immense power of reading Russians like Pushkin so vividly and beautifully.

A fantastic similie, the swans and old Russian literature:

"I know what they are
when I see them,
but they are still unclear"

Really wonderful!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Jenny - I much appreciate your enthusiasm. I have read Pushkin in the past and have loved some of his poetry, especially the romantic narratives, but have just begun to gain a real passion. Thanks!

RachelW said...

Neat! I find it's not the reflection I'm drawn to, but the imperfect pairing of the image-- like one of those "butterflies" we used to make as small children by pressing paint inside a folded sheet of paper.

Anonymous said...

I love the metaphor of the reflections!!

Rick said...

...a powder of everyday words...

Your mind is just too beautiful, K Lawsen.

Margaret said...

This has such a lovely nostalgic touch to it K.
I'm loving your poems more and more as I read them.

The photo is awesome, it's the kind of photo I love taking.

(Sorry I'm so late commenting, my days don't have enough hours..)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Rachel - I loved making those. It was always exciting to see the results...as with so many other things in life that bring results - exciting ;) Thank you.

Jason - Reflections lend themselves so readily to interpretation. Many thanks.

Rick - what a lovely compliment. My mind thanks you. ;)

Margaret - well, my goodness, after training for and then running a marathon, who would have much time? I'd be sleeping for a week. hahaa

Thanks so much for your kind remarks. I am happy to hear that you are enjoying my work. That makes me very happy, Margaret.

Anonymous said...

It shows just a little bit. :) But if you're studying the level of craft that he uses in the original Russian, it's crazy... the fact that he carries such a complicated and original dance of rhyme through all of Eugene Onegin is truly astounding.

Are you reading his work in Russian or in translation? (James E. Falen's Eugene Onegin in the Oxford Classics series: very excellent.)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Joseph, :) I'm reading Stanley Mitchell's English translation - (Penguin Classics) which I chose, because I read that he, more so than some, preserves the poetic imperatives of Pushkin's stanzas. I have to say, *because* of the rhyming, I can only read so much at a sitting. ;)

Ghost Dansing said...


Rick said...

Oh my gosh, K. I just noticed the word "raveling" in your header. Such a wonderful word choice!

George said...

Oh, I'd missed your writings K. This is one of the examples why, sweet...

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Dear Ghost - I'll return to this often. What a haunting, ancient melody and bonny swans, indeed. As always, thank you.

Rick - I have always liked that word, and was happy to have thought of it when setting up the header. How nice that you noticed! :D

George - how very nice to see you!!! Hope all is going well. I know you have been on a little hiatus. I'll be over to visit you.
Thanks for your "sweet" comments.

Barbara Martin said...

Exquisite poetry: delicate like the reflection of the swan in the water.

I have arrived via Rick Ferrel's blog.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Hi Barbara - I really appreciate your taking the time to stop by and comment. I am on a little hiatus, of sorts, but wanted to respond to your comment here. Thanks so much for your kinds remarks and I do hope you will come by again. I should be off for another week or two, but after that - I will be reved up and ready to go! I'll come and visit you on my return. ;)