I am in a mood for Judith Wright poetry, to rail against the world and still find beauty. And the full moon tonight stops me turning pages at:
Old Woman’s Song
The moon drained white by day
lifts from the hill
where the old pear-tree, fallen in storm,
puts out some blossom still.
Women believe in the moon.
This branch I hold
is not more white and still than she
whose flower is ages old;
and so I carry home
this branch of pear
that makes such obstinate tokens still
of fruit it cannot bear.
Wright’s poem is in quatrains (four-line stanzas) with a rhyme scheme of ABCB, meaning that the second and fourth lines rhyme and the first and third have no relation to each other or to the even-numbered lines. I’d identify this piece as “heterometrical” because I think the lines are mostly iambic but rarely do they contain the same number of iambic feet. I like this “form” because it allows the reader to experience the rhythm of the poem and allowes the writer to use the visual effect of line breaks.
To me this poem speaks of the futility of beauty, and more: the persistence of beauty in spite of said futility.
The first line of the second stanza shocks me with its end-stopped-ness and its implications: men don’t? What is there to believe? What does that belief gain you or subtract from you? Lots of moonlit paths to pursue.
And what does the title tell me? That this is not the epiphany of a young woman, although the poem, by its existence, lends this epiphany to those of any age or identity. But it is the voice of a woman who feels she is past her prime and may be looking for a reason to keep going.
It’s a beaut.