What walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening?
—Theban sphinx (via Robert Graves)
A sword must combine two different and incompatible properties of materials. It must be flexible and yet it must be hard. These are not properties which can be built into the same material unless it consists of layers. In order to achieve that the steel billet is cut and then doubled over again and again so as to make a multitude of inner surfaces.
She was fast asleep.
Winter’s seeds blossom
into ice and wind and iron and snow,
thrustsilver shards that cold afternoons
Smelt without heat,
the snow is water; starshine
twists new shapes each night.
Knives of nature disguise the grass,
deadseeming, drenched in sharp shapes
Winter is still time,
perfect in ice, dreaming,
and sap still runs in hearts
quick but slow.
bloom in ice and eyes,
rimes of cold blood and stars,
saltfire, careless jeers.
Your borealis breath
with precise crimes,
The crystalline season shrives you,
ice the wind and iron the snow.
Color is dead,
worn gray by wind’s cold scire,
mirrorkeen, edged like pain.
Sunlight seeks to show,
but frozen air devours
warmth, unstrings that lyre.
like a knife
cuts flesh for bone;
bloodless marrow dusts
the cold air’s scheming,
and hearts (drained bleak)
pump dirt and stone.
Winter still time;
locked in ice the stars are dreaming
visions of catastrophe,
winding ice in eyes: rimes
of cut blood,
Blustrous words crack cold air,
and retardant rhymes
toss leaflike love upon the gale—
these severing years.
Windscalpels dissect me,
a treenaked, tuneless
slate air, spit, confusion
and wet ice.
Winter’s leaves bleed ice,
wind, iron: and snow:
Silverflash glare as layered air
and ice unite, and
opalescent snow descends.
Starshine twists new shapes each night.
Astral refractions condense
and cool. Windliar-lovely,
identical and unique
graycrystal darts of ice
pierce hearts (quick, slow)
for winter is still time,
sliced eyes folded in a rhyme
of cupped blood, stars, steelfire,
Starfalling wind freezes, iceprisms
bending back time,
oxymoronic and micalike love
blends sharp the severing years.
Winter becomes us,
an all at once translated
warped and sung as the wrung wind’s tune.
a prism of three fractured, interreflecting sonnets
early 1977 through 1978
I found these notes that date from quite a while after the poem, offered here as a nod to my own pomposity and to aid in understanding…
winterʹs seeds ice=razor/smelt=water=snow<—>twisted by
starshine wind iron snow=water
iceshards=razorflashbrihgt=knives of nature=sharp shapes=eyes=rime
ice is smelt (without heat)
ice disguises grass (seeminlgy dead)
winter is time stilled=perfect=dreaming (in ice)
frozen blossoms bloom in ice and eyes (rhyme/identity)
flowerless winter colorless (dead)=gray (worn so by ice)
wind=air=scire (L need to know/nomnified verb)=gray=scheming=eyes=vision=rimes of catastrophe (pun?)
color=warmth=sunlight=lyre (pun?) whindwhine=knife=MIRROR
winter stills time: locked in ice stars dream
words crack cold air wind dissects me
wind (slate air) spitsconfusion & wet ice
leaves of winter layered air and ice unite ——>
snowflakes=darts of ice=astral refractions condense & cooled
windlyre icedarts (Cupidlike?) pierce hearts
winter is yet TIME perfect FERROUS (ferre-ice), dreaming
all ferre possible translations perfect iron is steel (made by folding) forging/hammering sparks=stars??
songs are swordlike——>fold together ICE&EYES into a rhyme (ice)
STARFALLING WIND freezes (creates) iceprisms bending back TIME
love blends years
winter=rune translated all at once=spectrum=Möbius strip
windʹs tune warped and sung