Monday, November 27, 2006

Poem of the Week 11/27/2006: The Sun Underfoot Among the Sundew

The Sun Underfoot Among the Sundew

An ingenuity too astonishing
to be quite fortuitous is
this bog full of sundews, sphagnum-
lined and shaped like a teacup.
                                                A step
down and you're into it: a
wilderness swallows you up:
ankle-, then knee-, then midriff-
to-shoulder-deep in wetfooted
understory, an overhead
spruce-tamarack horizon hinting
you'll never get out of here.
                                            But the sun
among the sundews, down there,
is so bright, an underfoot
webwork of carnivorous rubies,
a star-swarm thick as the gnats
they're set to catch, delectable
double-faced cockleburs, each
hair-tip a sticky mirror
afire with sunlight, a million
of them and again a million,
each mirror a trap set to
unhand unbelieving,
                                that either
a First Cause said once, "Let there
be sundews," and there were, or they've
made their way here unaided
other than by that backhand, round-
about refusal to assume responsibility
known as Natural Selection.
                                           But the sun
underfoot is so dazzling
down there among the sundews,
there is so much light
in the cup that, looking,
you start to fall upward.

Amy Clampitt 1983

Some explicatory notes: this poem tells the story of a (wo?)man walking into a bog and falling into a deep, marshy area of sundews. I don't know how this works, and I am too tired to look it up, but that is what I get from the poem. She falls, but, slightly afraid of dying, sees the sundews shining out. They are so beautiful, that it seems that she is falling the opposite way.

That is an incredibly crude explanation of this poem, but my hope is that this little summary will help you parse out the poem yourself. Maybe it will help? It is a beautiful poem - light imagery always gets me.

I chose it because it's snowing here, and I was amused at the juxtaposition. Goodnight!

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