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April 20th, 2005

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12:55 pm - From memory:
I love this poem, but cannot for the life of me recall who the author is, or what book it's from. I do recall it being the one gem in a very odd YA fantasy book (real-life, but with a creepy stalker sorcery-guy in it). I memorized it, I loved it so much. If anyone can tell me the source, I'd appreciate it. ETA: I finally recalled the exact wording of the first two lines!

Some say we picture lovers face to face,
Entwined, intent each on the other alone;
While friends are side by side intent, and gaze
Upon some truth each thought themselves to own
Sole, strange, and lonely. Friendship is that wood
In which run rank all flowers we thought rare;
In which at first aghast we stared and stood
To see two phoenix dazzle the dim air.

But when I think of you in terms of these
Symbolical fine patterns, full of grace,
We are not side by side, but back to back,
Intent upon two mirrors where we gaze.
And I see your face multiplied in glass,
And you see mine, through these infinities.

Current Mood: thankfulthankful

(11 lit candles | Light a candle)


Date:April 20th, 2005 09:07 pm (UTC)
It's credited to Pamela Dean, now Pamela Dean Dyer-Bennett.

Date:April 20th, 2005 09:07 pm (UTC)
Sorry, Bennet, one "t".

[User Picture]
Date:April 20th, 2005 09:16 pm (UTC)
Where did you search for this? I did a google search for the more distictive phrasing, and didn't find anything...
Date:April 20th, 2005 09:22 pm (UTC)
Googled the two phoenix line, found this quoted in another LJ with author name attached, googled name and found author works in fantasy.

[User Picture]
Date:April 20th, 2005 10:16 pm (UTC)
That's her legal surname, but her working name is still just Pamela Dean.
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Date:April 20th, 2005 10:15 pm (UTC)
You know, I haven't actually read the book in which this poem appears (which means it must be "Juniper, Gentian and Rosemary", since I've read all her others, I believe), but as soon as I saw it I thought, "Gosh, that sounds like one of Pamela's." I memorized her poem from Tam Lin, "The Atheist in Doubt":

The winter shrills its dirge self satisfied,
And all is black, or gray, or ragged brown,
And all the world in rags its bread has cried,
And begged the gates of that unheeding town
Men once called heaven.
Such a time as this
Must make our reasoned doubt a certainty:
We see the universe just as it is,
Not veiled by miracle of bud or tree.
But even as I watch the senseless sky
Cracked hideous in the water at my feet,
Dread rumors crowd me, dark forebodings: I
Remember, as improbable as spring,
To this abyss where Night and Chaos meet,
The star, the cup, the cross: that tale's ending.

Isn't that fabulous?
[User Picture]
Date:April 20th, 2005 10:40 pm (UTC)
Oh my.... There's definitely another one to memorize.

I wonder if I should try her books again--I remember what I did read being so creepy to me that I failed to try any of her other stuff. Hmmm.
[User Picture]
Date:April 20th, 2005 11:03 pm (UTC)
Like I said, I haven't read the book you did (if it's the one I think it is, about the three sisters who riddle with the Devil or his sorcerous equivalent), but I would readily recommend anything else of hers. I've always found her work to be deftly written, subtly humorous, and, in its sombre passages, much more wistful and haunting than creepy. (I have almost no tolerance for horror, and I don't care for gothic supernaturalism either; so if she tended to be an author who suffered from Dark Gods, as Lewis put it, I would hurry off in the other direction.)

If you can get your hands on the Secret Country trilogy (The Secret Country, The Hidden Land, and The Whim of the Dragon) or The Dubious Hills, those would be a good place to start. I'm not quite as fond of Tam Lin (in spite of the poem-memorizing), but all the same it stands up well to re-reading and I know a lot of people (especially literature geeks, of whom I once thought I was one, but now I know that I am merely a dilettante) who unconditionally adore it.
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Date:April 21st, 2005 12:56 am (UTC)
(if it's the one I think it is, about the three sisters who riddle with the Devil or his sorcerous equivalent

That sounds about right. Of course, I was 11 or 12 when I read it, so I would probably not find it at all creepy now. :-)

*notes down titles for next library trip* Thank you!

[User Picture]
Date:April 29th, 2005 07:44 am (UTC)

Random Reference

The first thing I thought of when I saw this poem was C.S. Lewis -- the first several lines expand on a famous quote of his: "We picture lovers face to face but friends side by side; their eyes look ahead."

I really like this extension of the idea, though. Great poem.
[User Picture]
Date:April 29th, 2005 04:43 pm (UTC)

Re: Random Reference

I know, the first thing I thought of was Lewis' The Four Loves. Actually, looking at Pamela Dean's other poem in the comments, here, it's vaguely Lewisesque as well. I have to wonder how much influence Lewis had on her.

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