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From the YouTube Music Video Archives: The Sun In My Mouth by Björk

I just finished reading that interview with Potter Noster linked to below, and as I wrote in the comment box, the interview itself strikes me as kind of extended prose poem. I enjoyed his take on e.e. cummings and Wallace Stevens in particular, which resonates with a lot of poet converts, I think. Regarding the teenager’s sense of vocation, poets and aeronautical engineers are more or less kind of the same sort of profession, it seems to me. When you squint.

So here is the not-so-anemic Björk singing “The Sun In My Mouth” in a performance from just a few months ago. It’s a great song set to a fantastic poem by e.e. cummings; when I first heard it some ten years ago, the lyrics struck me as remarkably Catholic (“She’s referring to the eucharist!” I said to myself), and certainly the lines “Will i complete the mystery / of my flesh” would seem difficult for any Catholic to read without being reminded of the Corporis Christi Mysticum. Lo, after listening to the Vespertine album a few hundred times and studying up on Björk herself, I had to admit that that for her they were nothing of the kind. Likewise for Cummings. As far as I know. Which, really, isn’t all that much at all. I, for one, will continue to read “silver of the moon” as a metaphor for the semi-circle of the accepted chalice, and hope that neither Cummings nor Björk or even the Corporis Christi Mysticum will mind.

Anyway here’s the poem “I Will Wade Out,” unfortunately without the wonderfully ideosyncratic line breaks so characteristic of cummings:

i will wade out
till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
Alive
with closed eyes
to dash against darkness
in the sleeping curves of my body
Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery
with chasteness of sea-girls
Will i complete the mystery
of my flesh
I will rise
After a thousand years
lipping
flowers
And set my teeth in the silver of the moon

Comments

  1. Quin,

    For my money, this is e.e.’s money poem (and for those who know their Woody Allen films it has precipitated my fostering an unexpected crush on Barbara Hershey):

    somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
    any experience,your eyes have their silence:
    in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
    or which i cannot touch because they are too near

    your slightest look easily will unclose me
    though i have closed myself as fingers,
    you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
    (touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

    or if your wish be to close me, i and
    my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
    as when the heart of this flower imagines
    the snow carefully everywhere descending;

    nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
    the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
    compels me with the color of its countries,
    rendering death and forever with each breathing

    (i do not know what it is about you that closes
    and opens;only something in me understands
    the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
    nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

  2. Vespertine’s the best.

  3. Quin Finnegan says:

    Yes, Job, that certainly is a wonderful poem; I think Bjork should sing it as well. Or she should sing one (of maybe two and a half I wrote in college) called, “I love you, Barbara Hershey!” possibly sparked by the same movie, although it may also have been “Tin Men,” which is also very good.

    Thanks for commenting, BettyDuffy, and I agree with you about Vespertine. Bjork’s other albums all include a number of great songs, but Vespertine is top shelf, start to finish. I like “Aurora” especially, and the last song, “Unison,” is a just stunning closer.

    And of course it marks the premiere of the swan dress, so, yeah – it’s the best.

  4. Unison’s my fave, then Aurora, but It’s Not Up to You is somehow surprisingly life affirming and makes me happy.

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