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"I have just learnt to love a hyacinth."

In Chapter Twenty-Two of Northanger Abbey, the heroine, Catherine Morland, tells the hero, Henry Tilney, "I have just learnt to love a hyacinth." You can read a summary of the chapter, and of Henry's response, and of the various levels of meaning, in my 2009 blog post on the chapter, if you'd like.

But today, I have learnt to love the poem "Hyacinth", by Lousie Glück. Written in free verse, in six numbered stanzas, each of which can stand alone, really, as separate thoughts on the hyacinth, but which flow together extremely well also, the poem combines images of the flower with its mythological origin - a flower created by the god Apollo from the spilled blood of one of his lovers, the boy named Hyacinth - as well as with the reactions of others to the death of the young man.

I've posted the first two stanzas below - you can read the rest of the poem (still under copyright - hence the link) at The Poetry Foundation website by following the link below.

by Louise Glück


Is that an attitude for a flower, to stand
like a club at the walk; poor slain boy,
is that a way to show
gratitude to the gods? White
with colored hearts, the tall flowers
sway around you, all the other boys,
in the cold spring, as the violets open.


There were no flowers in antiquity
but boys’ bodies, pale, perfectly imagined.
So the gods sank to human shape with longing.
In the field, in the willow grove,
Apollo sent the courtiers away.

Read the rest here.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 2nd, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
Hope your birthday was filled with poetry, color, fun, laughter, and tons of love :D Thank you for sharing so many neat poems and ideas -- for those of us who love poetry (and those who don't, as much), it's a real treat!
Apr. 3rd, 2012 12:16 am (UTC)
My birthday definitely had most of those things, although it was a bit scarce on the poetry front (of all things!). I'm glad you like this year's Poetry Month idea!
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 3rd, 2012 12:16 am (UTC)
That was mine, too - isn't it gorgeous?
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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