I really enjoy Brian Patten’s love poetry; he writes of joy and sadness and how the two can mingle, while never using words that you wouldn’t hear in an everyday conversation. He’s the only living poet whose works I regularly raid for my song lyrics. So when my battered old copy of his Love Poems fell apart, I invested in a shiny copy of his new Collected Love Poems.
Curiously, in a volume called “Collected Poems”, one of them is missing. It was in “Love Poems”, substantially revised from a previously published version, and revised for the better. But I can only assume Patten was still dissatisfied and so dropped it.
Because I’m talking online to some people about his poems (and who have bought his newest book on my recommendation), I’m copying the poem here so they have the text. Brian – if you want me to remove it, I will. But I think you’re mistaken; it’s a lovely piece. (And, sorry, but I stole the blue dress image for an unrecorded song called “The girl in the room”.)
The fruitful lady of dawn
She walks across the room and opens the skylight
thinking: “perhaps a bird will drop in
and teach me how to sing.”
She cannot speak easily of what she feels
nor can she fathom out
whose dawn her heart belongs in.
Among the men she knows
she knows few
who understand her freedom.
Baffled by her love and by
how she withdraws her love,
she remains an enigma,
and under the skylight
puts on her red dress calling it a blue one.
She approaches breakfast as she would a lover -
She is alive,
and one of her body’s commonest needs
I have made holy.