At a poetry group I attend, the subject colours elicited this poem. I was away that month, so someone kindly gave me copies of the poems brought and this was a photocopy, with no author, just 1905 in brackets under the title. The typeface and layout was typical for a poetry book of that period, and the date was part of the original layout and in a matching typeface. When I got back,home, liking the poem and being idle, I went onto the Internet to see if I could download a copy rather than retype (whoever copied it had gone over the got the last verse upside down on the back of the sheet, so I preferred a more orthodox presentation). I found it was attributed to Sujata Bhatt , allegedly from her book called A Colour for Solitude, published in 2002. I wondered if anyone had a copy of the book and if that poem is in it.
I shall ask at the next poetry group meeting, who brought that poem and where they got it from.
Marian, the book you seek is available at most university libraries. Call the reference desk of your nearest university library and ask them if the poem you seek is included within the book.
Sorry, this one contained a typo
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/30/2007 11:50PM by les712.
Here's the poem, out of context of course:
In Her Green Dress, She Is
In her green dress, she is the background and the foreground -
A green dress the colour of iris stems, the ones in the background -
A green dress the colour of iris stems against grass -
Green on green on green -
She is the foreground and the background -
Her face intent because she's listening to a bird in the distance - a single bird - persistent - calling again and again - Its song slit, cleft - rising and falling and rising again through the stillness. Its song clinging to the leaves - A melody that must have moved Bach -
Her face intent because irises have flung themselves open in the heat: Blue petals arched like so many little blue tongues tasting the air -
Those yellow hearts cannot hide anymore.
Even the black stones, the oval shaped black stones of her necklace can see you
It is June: Full of Humid Shadows, purple clouds - it will rain in an hour. The irises will sway in the wind - a few stems will get bent by the rain - broken - and her green dress will get drenched along with the grass where the stems will lie broken -
But she will walk away laughing - she will walk slowly lingering in the green wetness
That doesn't look like a poem from 1905. Marian is the one with the text she trying to trace, so is it the same one?
Linda, the poem I copied is from Sujata Bhatt. The website from which I copied this claims that this poem was taken from "A Colour for Solitude" published in 2002.
Because Marian did not include any of the poem's text, I have no way of knowing whether or not it's the one she wanted.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2007 02:31AM by les712.
It is the same poem, but I can't work out why the version I've seen has the date 1905 on it - that's why I asked if anyone had the book, so I could see if it has 1905 written under the title and above the first line. The photocopy I have has no author credited, but I found the same words credited to Sujata Bhatt, but missing the date, as Les did - whether the photocopy I have is of the poem in A Colour for Solitude, with that date in it (which would explain why no author is credited - as all the poems in book are by Sujata) or whether there is another explanation, I don't know.
Marian, perhaps this website will shed some light on our mystery. [126.96.36.199] />
From which we find this: "The mesmerizing gaze of a woman illuminates the cover of A Colour for Solitude, setting the tone for a book-length sequence of highly sensual and colourful poems. All centre around the German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907)."
It seems to me the date 1905 must refer to that year in the life of the central character.
Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2007 12:31PM by les712.
That looks like you've found the answer, Les. When I tried googling I didn't find that page, you have better google-fu than me.
That article also addresses a question I had about the many dashes at the ends of the lines. I wondered whether they were original to the author, or added by the person who copied the poem to the internet.
It's curious that the person who copied the poem to the internet didn't feel the date 1905 relevant to the poem. That's the inherent danger with trusting the internet, a touch of the delete key and we all might become editors.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/01/2007 04:58PM by les712.
Thank you so very much, Les, that brilliant link not only answers my question (the person who gave me the photocopy also was an unwitting editor, by not putting an attribution on it, so we can't just blame the internet), but also gives me sseveral more poetry books to look out for - the reviewer makes them all sound so tempting. I rarely find a reviewer who doesn't slant the review so much that it amounts to making the decision whether to read it or not for the reader - Alison Rowsell is unusually objective. And the poem I was interested in turns out to be about a painter (possibly even about a painting), to add to my collection of poems about art and painting. So I'm delighted with your response.
Thanks for your interest and for looking, too, Linda
By the way, the line spacings of the poem in the photo copy was very different, making it look, to me, much more like a 1905 poem, esp with the font (which I can't reproduce here):
In Her Green Dress, She Is
In her green dress, she is
the background and the foreground -
A green dress the colour
of iris stems,
the ones in the background -
A green dress
the colour of iris stems against grass -
Green on green on green -
She is the foreground
and the background -
Her face intent because
she's listening to a bird in the distance -
a single bird - persistent -
calling again and again -
Its song slit, cleft -
rising and falling
and rising again through the stillness.
Its song clinging to the leaves -
that must have moved Bach -
Her face intent because irises
have flung themselves open in the heat:
Blue petals arched like so many little blue tongues
tasting the air -
Those yellow hearts cannot hide anymore.
Even the black stones, the oval shaped
black stones of her necklace
can see you
It is June: Full of Humid Shadows,
purple clouds - it will rain
in an hour. The irises will sway
in the wind - a few stems will
get bent by the rain - broken -
and her green dress will get drenched
along with the grass
where the stems will lie
But she will walk away
laughing - she will walk slowly
lingering in the green wetness
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/16/2007 12:53PM by marian222.
Warwickshire libraries has a good poetry section that moves around the branches, this book is in Stratford at the moment so I'm going to put in a request for it.
I wonder if this is another misunderstanding like the Apollinaire, and the title is really 1905.
If my photocopy was taken from that book, it isn't a misunderstanding, as the poem is titled by the same words as its first line (appropriately capitalised) with 1905 in a different font centred beneath it. The only thing that wasn't there was the author's name, which would be explained if the whole book was of her poems - presumably dates would be included to show the stage of the painter (subject)'s life she'd got to.
Until our next poetry group meeting at the end of this month, I can't make any enquiries about the source of the photocopy, so if you can get the book, that would help solve it. It may be that our library (where we hold the group meetings) has the book, so I could request it, too, but it could equally easily belong to the lady who chose it. I'll try and remember to make enquiries at the library next time I go.
Marian, I'm glad you found a copy of the poem and were able to give the readers here a suitable copy of it.
I've got the book from the library now, I think I will have to do a "book report" on it so I'll type it up in Word and then paste it here.
Marian, the whole book is poems about art and the front cover of the paperback is the painting of the woman in green.
Thanks, Linda - I'd love to know what you think of the rest of the poems in the book and how 'woman in green' poem fits in. Are all the poems teamed with pictures, and the pictures reproduced, or is there just the one of the woman in green on the front, and you have to find the rest yourself, if sufficiently inspired?
Half of me longs to see what painting of the woman in the green dress looks like, and the other half doesn't want an illusion spoiled ie the picture in my imagination. When I first read the poem, and thought about the date, I 'saw' a Victorian lady, beautiful in an elegant green frock with bustle, but then I looked up the artist and her work is a bit bizarre for my taste - reminded me vaguely of Gaugin's later work. Now I know more about the painter, from Les's link and other follow ups - I suspect I'm a very long way out with the original mental picture and though I've modified it quite a bit, she's more a Rosetti subject, but suspect I'm still a long way off the mark.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/14/2007 11:12AM by marian222.
Here is my essay and much good may it do you, I'm a scientist I don't write flowing words. The first couple of paragraphs are paraphrased from the introduction of the book (saves thinking too much).
The book is a typical Carcanet paperback, 112 pages, no illustrations, set in 10pt Palatino, ISBN 1 85754 589 3.
The painter, Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907)has been described as the first true modernist in German art. Although she was open to many influences she transformed them in her own work and some of her last paintings are said to anticipate Picasso. She died in 1907 a few days after giving birth to her only child. She left 560 paintings, 700 drawings and 13 etchings from her maturity. The Nazis condemned them as degenerate and sold the ones which were in museums, but most of her work was hidden by her friends and her daughter. Her works include about 50 self portraits.
The poet, Sujata Bhatt, was born in India, studied in America and now lives with her husband and daughter in Germany. She first became aware of Becker as the subject of Rilke's poem "Requiem for a friend" and as a friend of Rilke's wife, Clara Westhoff. She lives in the same part of Germany as Becker came from and where most of her art is exhibited. She became fascinated by the paintings especially the self portraits and began to imagine conversations with the painter and between Becker and Westhoff.
Most of the poems are Bhatt addressing the portrait or musing on it, as in "In her green dress, She is" Where the painting has a title that is used as the title of the poem, eg "Self portrait as a Nude Torso with an Amber Necklace, 1906" The date is the date of the painting and they are in the book in chronological order of painting. Although Becker's letters and papers have been published Westhoff's journals have not, so she is only known at second hand. Bhatt also has poems imaging conversations between the two women about their work and about Rilke, Westhoff's thoughts as the years went by after Becker's dead and her own thoughts visiting the museums and Becker's family.
"In her green dress, She is" is typical of all the poems here, but I think they would mean more if they could be read with the picture visible to the reader.
The poems were fine but not quite what I go for.
Thanks so much for getting the book out and making the report on it, Linda - I found it really interesting. Thank goodness the Nazis sold Paula Modersohn-Becker's pictures rather than destroying them. I have looked at some on the internet, and they are very powerful, though not really to my taste. Thanks also for explaining about the date, which was the original puzzle I started the thread about - mystery solved - very satisfying!
I really like the 'green dress' poem, so will probably get hold of the book myself, in the future, or at least try and find more of Bhatt's work.
Of course they sold them.
it was always about the money
all of it
don't let anyone tell you otherwise
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/18/2007 12:18PM by les712.