Poetry by Richard S. Ellis

 

 

A number of these poems were published in 1969 in The Lion Rampant, a Harvard University publication.  In the February 1969 issue, the following was written about me.

 

Richard S. Ellis is a senior in Winthrop House.  His work reveals his intensive study of German poetry.

 

Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust

niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter soviel

Lidern

Rainer Maria Rilke

Rose, oh pure contradiction, desire

to be no one’s sleep under so many

lids

 

 

 

 

 

 


Benediction

 

                                      pamper my mouth

                                           with freshly swollen grass

                                      teach my tongue new things

                                           inflate my cheeks with air

                                      newly purified, filtered through lips,

                                           and watch me rise far past you

                                      over the fields you have blessed

                                           watch me seek my own level

                                      above the clouds

                                           where the weather matures

                                                and there is no chaos

 

                                      I shall one day descend

                                           in the celebration of breath

                                      and together we will praise

                                           the birth of a beautiful star

 

                                      our dances will be new magic

 

 

Honorable Mention in The Lyric

college contest, summer 1969

 

 

 

 

 


As If It Were Morning ...

 

just to wake up in the mornings

of time damp

mouth the lovely

turmoil of hair to wake

up among the legs you’ve

grown to know to touch with

and to smile at the door (for

you’ve passed through and

at the trees so complete outside

yet near enough to feel that

their stance is your

involvement with this

second body (that you’ve

grown to) that lies with

its essence of limbs almost

passively close to your arm

as if what you had to give

were everything and her

breath is damp too

and you hear it

rise past your brow

and across the ceiling

and look

all the windows are open

from the sun there blows

the odor of clinging summer light

 

The Lion Rampant, Harvard University,
May 1969, page 34

 

 

 

 

 


One Year Before Our Marriage

 

                                                      That night was the most beautiful of all

                                              as we sat, simple and whole and together,

                                                                 under the kitchen light stare and the kettle

                                                                 by the drain, and I rubbed the ball of your

                                                                 left foot, for it was calloused from the walk

                                                                 we had taken down the empty streets and that

                                                                 road that led in a circle, where in harmony

                                                                 we lingered as we looked and embraced for joy,

                                                                 only to feel that time was just another word

                                                                 in the vocabulary of lovers, and we turned, past

                                                                 the nickel and the wish: may this be our

                                                                 only minus, and hand in hand still, forever

                                                                 at peace, we sauntered and touched again and

                                                                 said almost nothing.

                                                                

                                                                                 From “Love Poems for Alison,” given to my wife
                                                                                 on the day of our wedding, June 22, 1969

 

 

 

 

 

A Song on the Quantization of Nature of Mind

 

Waves arouse the brow.  Soaked-up petal.

The beach’s shifting answer: caked sand view.

The sky reveals a bough of fruits that settle.

They pour back to the sea a liquid blue.

 

The hill.  Two rivers.  Nothing growing.

An olive tree: its static shock.

The clouds through gaps of sound are blowing.

Ocean, overcome by rock.

 

      The Lion Rampant, Harvard University, February 1969, page 15

 

 

 

 

 

Farewell to Widener Library

 

The massive branches of the trees

roll in the wind, outside the window

beyond the extremest conjuration

of which the mind is capable,

their arch gulps the building,

threatens the broken corpses

of twigs, the birds are frightened.

 

I sit in essential peace,

folding the pages of a book of poems.

The wind attacks the pane.

 

The creases will remain.

 

Written in the spring of 1969

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Full-Blown Roses

                                                                   And so I give to you these full-blown roses:

                                                                   their lids hang loosely, all their brows unseen;

                                                                   and so I give to you these wind-grown poses

                                                                   of winterness, composed with evergreen.

 

                                                                   We sense the entropy through fogged-up petals,

                                                                   how vital fluids lift and sag and fall,

                                                                   until the verdict on the stamen settles,

                                                                   of gravity, a star, a brittle wall.

 

                                                                   And yet their curvings, as they flush the mind,

                                                                   still open to the sounds of sea and beach:

                                                                   those hollow days before a shell would find

                                                                   the meaning of a stone, and want to reach.

         

                                                                   Birth under Taurus: two cool blue skies

                                                                   that mirror the earth of these moody eyes.

 

                                                                                    The Lion Rampant, Harvard University, February 1969, page 15

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis

 

In the beginning
we stood at opposite ends of the bare room.

Your mouth was crushing honeysuckle.

My mouth had nothing.

We stood, stared.

The room had no center.

The honeysuckle was staining your mouth.

 

Just then a curtain began to breathe.

A seed was lifted through a gap in the wall

pierced the outer edge of your shadow

settled at your feet.

 

Honeysuckle shadow.

Honeysuckle forming.

An orange grew.

 

Written in the spring of 1969

 

 

 

 

 

   Eyes in Stasis

 

                                                                   I watch your eyes as they glitter like

                                                                   lapis lazuli, newly hewn and

                                                                   chiseled into uniqueness by an

                                                                   Oriental storm whose magnificent

                                                                   fluttering the lids have not forgotten.

                                                                   And eyelids: soft, complex, strange, these limpid

                                                                   impossible lids, ever unveiling

                                                                   their lotus flower delicacy like

                                                                   a bride in chamber.  Here everything

                                                                   is surface.  I see two eggs hovering

                                                                   past the flood, that reveal by the

                                                                   undulations on the shells what

                                                                   is chaotic within.  I see a lotus

                                                                   flower surrounded by water,

                                                                    but the water never wets its petals.

                                                                   They would bear the imprint of this

                                                                   fluid touch for quite a while.

 

                                                                                    The Lion Rampant, Harvard University,
                                                                                    February 1969, page 18

 

 

 

 

 


Listening to Rachmaninoff’s

Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

 

At the Esplanade, cultivating ego

on my dirty green beach blanket, I

forget Spinoza and how thoughts not

casually connected were said by him

to cause pain, for I find myself

finally able to let my mind

wander.  Alison’s shadow, her body

fragrance that started in the neck:

they coax the blue fingerprint of

music to flutter my mind, as I,

reclining, spread from manhood

to memories.  I almost remember

when the first twilight star poked

through, but I was a child, near water,

together with a childhood friend, and

in our innocence we begged the trees:

Don’t be like time; you must stay

with us forever.  You must always

be here to support us.  Yet

filtered through the bellies of

violins, piano percussion is strong,

and thus, on my final backward swing,

it places me once again in

front of the golden shell, just

in time to marvel at the rhapsodic

flower and how openly it pampers

the seed of its own undoing.

 

Written in the summer of 1968

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Making Circles into Fruit

 

                                                                                    When the world stained my brow’s honest

                                                                   mirror with blotches of deeds, and words, and

                                                                   anxious complicities (my mother’s an apple

                                                                   a day keeps the water away, away from

                                                                   the eyes, the fingertips, the handsome hands

                                                                   crushed in spring’s door), I grabbed the blunt

                                                                   edge of a stylus of light, or the first

                                                                   marks the tide left, and made the blotches,

                                                                   disarrayed, asymmetric, into pictures:

                                                                   I would bulge one blotch large to be a man’s

                                                                   head; or elongate the twisting shadow

                                                                   of the balanced one into a tree and draw

                                                                   wires for children to strut under and say now

                                                                   we won’t grow; or not resist the temptation

                                                                   and blacken the roundest blotch there into

                                                                   a happy, simple sun in a cosmos of other

                                                                   half-realized suns; or the product of a night

                                                                   of brooding: a prison of lines, taut mouth,

                                                                   eyebrows, no lids, but still the eyes

                                                                   glistening, drinking in the burden of

                                                                   eternal leaves, and the eyes still glistening.

 

                                                                                    The Lion Rampant, Harvard University, May 1969, page 21

 

 

 

 

 


Ivy on the brow;

the sun’s opulence scattered

through

the bare apple branches,

light darts,

the silver mouth gathering

fruits

into an image of

richness to be, breathpause

 

for apples fallen but once

into the palms silent

celebration.

 

The Lion Rampant, Harvard University,

 May 1969, page 21

 

 

 

 

 


The Mind Is Fluid ...

Reality Metallic

 

Sing, genius, the completeness

of the world.  The sun as it

booms, the pluperfection of

         

everything external.  And the

child, focus his silver brow

as the metaphor of melancholy,

 

his reach, playing with fingers,

as the essential human woe.

In April, when afternoons

 

return and the endless

tirade with self has run to

rust, then among flowers

 

see a hold is kept, yet

the stamen strutting proudly

atop the womb droops, past

 

any knowledge of his, towards

decay.  So heap your asphodels

sky high, concoct the sun

 

with one of your moodier

meditations: in the end, your

crown will bleed as you

 

nourish these fields of bronze.

 

The Lion Rampant, Harvard University,

May 1969, page 35

 

 

 

 


 

To reach in cloacae of mind

for what best lies hidden,

the childhood memory,

the third descent,

the house of mirrors and laughs

and the thousand palm trees so utterly dying;

to reach past nettings of mind,

not the half-way gesture

but the morbid thrust to the root of all earth,

where the trees’ genesis is

red and immense and wholly sacred;

to rend all illusions of mind

and meet that second body

face-to-face and wordless,

and gone the postures of humanity,

the tongue’s, the brow’s protection

for a humid soul

 

to reach

 

to realize that palms thrive too

beyond the eye’s grasp

 

 

know thyself

 

The Lion Rampant, Harvard University,

May 1969, page 36


 

 

 

 

 

    Shades of the Jay

 

In hollow branches birds are loudly thinking,

wings once silver whitened by the wind;

across their brows the bronze of earth is drinking

from winter lids, whose brittle flesh is thinned.

 

In shallow water trunks are vaguely dreaming –

the cloak of moon removed before the sip;

yet through their twigs metallic juice is streaming;

tubes that suck the sun, that reach, that grip.

 

And in the air the vibrant speech, the thawing,

a jay with purple wings returns from the sea.

His brow is young, his down is damp, and drawing

in the blue, he rests upon the tree.

 

The Lion Rampant, Harvard University, May 1969, page 36

 

 

 

 

 


        Maturity

 

I drew a line one day.

It was my birthday.

 

In a year I tried to draw

the same line again,

and my hand slipped.

 

Haiku Highlights and other short poems,

May – June 1970, page 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slowly drifting crow

spikes moon onto bare branch

to brush it clean of footprints.

 

Haiku Highlights and other short poems,

July – August 1970, page 13