Week 4: Ghost of the Forest

Mossy air, thick in the valley of pines
slow drifting sun, streaks of needled light
white watchers, their great trunks soaring upward
earth on foamy earth, fog turned under fog
steam rises from the petals of dying flowers

looming figure, like in a dream
translucent and unreal, gently it approaches
sweet and careless, hoof by hoof
with eyes like the north lakes—with lily eyelids
unfrightened, without mind or purpose
uncharmed and unafflicted, having always been so

you are close—so close I could tell you a secret
I could count your eyelashes one by one
so close I could sing you a lullaby
but you don’t stop—you keep walking
and then you step right through me
as if you were a ghost, or wandering spirit
as if you were a vision set loose on the world

I ask you whose dream you have escaped from
and you look at me, and in an instant I evaporate
I disappear, true ghost of the forest
I, the vanishing one who has now vanished
a whisper about nothing, a memory lost
I am gone, leaving nothing behind
but a quiet morning in the tall shadows and
a pretty doe wandering through the green.

Author’s Notes:

This poem is interesting to me because it connects with one of one of my favorite literary movements—the Romantic movement. One of the major literary devices in Romanticism is this thing called Romantic Irony, which is a type of irony where there is a twist where the subject or narrator of the poem (or story) ends up becoming the object of the poem.

My favorite example of Romantic Irony is Winnie-the-Pooh tracking Heffalumps. He thinks he is hot on their trail, but in fact, he is just following his own tracks, which he has been leaving behind while looking for Heffalumps. Romantic Irony always starts off with the subject interacting with something external, only to reveal that the thing isn’t totally real in the end. There are tons of examples of this in Romantic literature that play out in a variety of ways. (A quick side note: Romantic is a confusing word. In this context it isn’t directly related to things like romantic love).

I don’t want to lay the explanation on too thick, so I’ll leave it to you decide if this is actually a good example of Romantic Irony.

Favorite Line:
uncharmed and unafflicted, having always been so

Least Beloved Line:
so close I could sing you a lullaby