Today’s word of the day is “Blason”. From “Emblazon”, the Blason is a poetic device in which the poet methodically praises a variety of a lover’s body parts though use of evocative metaphor. The most famous example of this is the bitingly sarcastic Sonnet 130, by Shakespeare:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks,
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know,
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
However, poems we’ve all seen before are boring, so how about this E. E. Cummings poem that I recently set to music (for solo soprano and piano accompaniment), which establishes a surprisingly tense dichotomy between naïve love and morbid fatalism.
Thy fingers make early flowers
of all things.
thy hair mostly the hours love:
a smoothness which
(though love be a day)
do not fear,we will go amaying.
thy whitest feet crisply are straying.
thy moist eyes are at kisses playing,
whose strangeness much
(though love be a day)
for which girl art thou flowers bringing?
To be thy lips is a sweet thing
Death,thee i call rich beyond wishing
if this thou catch,
(though love be a day
and life be nothing,it shall not stop kissing).
What caught my eye about this piece is how strophic1 this poem is (that can be the other word of the day). It’s like Cummings himself was trying to write music with his poetry, the way he establishes themes—like “thy _____”, or “(though love be a day)”, and then creations variations thereupon the way Brahms might slowly unfold a melody across numerous repetitions.
I personally don’t think I did the poem justice, but it was at the very least a great chance to peer into the mind of my favorite poet. Maybe I should analyze poetry more often.
Credit for discovering this word goes to this neat analysis I found for Thy fingers make early flowers.
1. “Strophic form (also called “verse-repeating” or chorus form) is the term applied to songs in which all verses or stanzas of the text are sung to the same music.” (From Wikipedia)