From Sappho to Dickinson, Rossetti, and the nightingales, death has been an imaginative obsession for many women poets-an obsession resumed in the twentieth century by poets like Millay, Mina Loy and Laura Riding...Smith and Plath.1 This pleased me because, since 1980 death has both haunted and attracted me. Somehow it did not seem right and yet, in another sense, it seemed the most natural of obsessions.
-Ron Price with thanks to 1Jahan Ramazani,Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1994, p.291.
These words, these prayers, so many deeds,
so many years have helped dissolve those walls
which thankfully separate us from them:
you wouldn’t want to go around hallucinating,
would you? Enmeshed as we are in each other’s
lives and will be, through these words,
this unpopular art which can’t be hung
for all to see or done
like that stone statue over there,
or turned into fine sound over time,
but will remain on paper
after the dilapidation of dilapidations,
after the night wind wimpers,
the leaves are all gone
and we come forth and on
with fragrances just beyond
and we slowly emerge,
exposed to our essential life,
world, at last.
Having grappled so long, so long,
with bits of paper
and what they all were saying,
a clearness fell over the river,
so smooth with a thousand diamonds
sun-studding: you could see them
as you drove along the river,
even in the night, a thousand eyes
but one mind, at last, at last,
even if the heart aches
for one has been there
so many times before.
Somewhere in the stale familiarity,
something tastes of home,
just around the corner,
beyond that cloud
where the sun is breaking,
strong and clear:
at last. --Ron Price 2 July 1995
married for 42 years; teacher for 35 years; Canadian living in Australia for 38 years; Baha'i for 50 years.