Green Mansions Redux
Whence is that song that lingers on the breeze?
This melody once echoed emerald hills
and floated on the wind past distant seas.
This brilliant song that lingers on the breeze
is lovelier than larks’, softer than bees’;
a jungle spirit’s voice. The forest thrills!
Whose song is this that lingers on the breeze?
Sweet Rima’s hymn enchants these emerald hills.
Look down, Rima, from your cliff-top terrace,
upon the arid and sun-scorched dunes where,
parched in sere wind, I pant for want of you.
Must I long remain in this shifting land,
sterile sands sifting through my unkempt hair,
alone and deranged by my thirst for you—
only your name on my lips as my prayer?
Rima! Summon me—one sweet liquid note.
Although I grieve, my tongue a hard, dry stone,
I cannot weep because I know you’re there,
reclining in your lofty solitude
behind the swaying silken drapery.
I know a pristine spring runs happily
from the cliff, rejoicing at your mere touch.
you, my Rima?
I will, as far as love
and legs will carry me, faithful
End of my last road
across the deep ravine
hata blooms, sweet moonrise
This 2005 poem, presented as free verse, is comprised of formal fragments.
The whole poem was published on Wild Poets Forum and on WHCpoetrybridge (World Haiku Club)
while the blank sonnet was published on Sonnet-Describe-Adonis.
I do not customarily provide background notes with poems, however, it seems appropriate with this one.
Rima: “Rhyme, poetry; antelope.” Notes: Literary: in Hudson’s “Green Mansions,” Rima was an elusive maiden of the South American rain forest who spoke the language of animals and birds.
The Hata Flower – pages 115-116 of Green Mansions etext: “Once, when clambering among the rough rocks, overgrown with forest, among the Queneveta mountains, I came on a single white flower which was new to me, which I have never seen since. After I had looked long at it, and passed on, the image of that perfect flower remained so persistently in my mind that on the following day I went again, in the hope of seeing it still untouched by decay. There was no change; and on this occasion I spent a much longer time looking at it, admiring the marvellous beauty of its form, which seemed so greatly to exceed that of all other flowers. It had thick petals, and at first gave me the idea of an artificial flower, cut by a divinely inspired artist from some unknown precious stone, of the size of a large orange and whiter than milk, and yet, in spite of its opacity, with a crystalline lustre on the surface. Next day I went again, scarcely hoping to find it still unwithered; it was fresh as if only just opened; and after that I went often, sometimes at intervals of several days, and still no faintest sign of any change, the clear, exquisite lines still undimmed, the purity and lustre as I had first seen it. Why, I often asked, does not this mystic forest flower fade and perish like others? That first impression of its artificial appearance had soon left me; it was, indeed, a flower, and, like other flowers, had life and growth, only with that transcendent beauty it had a different kind of life. Unconscious, but higher; perhaps immortal. Thus it would continue to bloom when I had looked my last on it; wind and rain and sunlight would never stain, never tinge, its sacred purity; the savage Indian, though he sees little to admire in a flower, yet seeing this one would veil his face and turn back; even the browsing beast crashing his way through the forest, struck with its strange glory, would swerve aside and pass on without harming it. Afterwards I heard from some Indians to whom I described it that the flower I had discovered was called Hata; also that they had a superstition concerning it–a strange belief. They said that only one Hata flower existed in the world; that it bloomed in one spot for the space of a moon; that on the disappearance of the moon in the sky the Hata disappeared from its place, only to reappear blooming in some other spot, sometimes in some distant forest. And they also said that whosoever discovered the Hata flower in the forest would overcome all his enemies and obtain all his desires, and finally outlive other men by many years. But, as I have said, all this I heard afterwards, and my half-superstitious feeling for the flower had grown up independently in my own mind. A feeling like that was in me while I gazed on the face that had no motion, no consciousness in it, and yet had life, a life of so high a kind as to match with its pure, surpassing loveliness. I could almost believe that, like the forest flower, in this state and aspect it would endure for ever; endure and perhaps give of its own immortality to everything around it–to me, holding her in my arms and gazing fixedly on the pale face framed in its cloud of dark, silken hair; to the leaping flames that threw changing lights on the dim stony wall of rock; to old Nuflo and his two yellow dogs stretched out on the floor in eternal, unawakening sleep. This feeling took such firm possession of my mind that it kept me for a time as motionless as the form I held in my arms. I was only released from its power by noting still further changes in the face I watched, a more distinct advance towards conscious life. The faint colour, which had scarcely been more than a suspicion of colour, had deepened perceptibly; the lids were lifted so as to show a gleam of the crystal orbs beneath; the lips, too, were slightly parted.”