Tag Archives: Pearl Rogers

WRITING STYLES: ‘Poetry’

In the poems of Patience Worth one can find her most creative and imaginative work.  She called her poems “songs” and writing them her “singing”.  Of course, Pearl Curran knew all about songs and singing as she had spent many years of her young life studying piano and singing.  Patience Worth uses the language of her poems as an artist uses paint on canvas. She smoothes and blends words of archaic and modern origin to produce images and feelings that pull the reader into a dimension outside of time and space.  The following  poems are, in my opinion, some of her best.

 

THE SOUNDS UNHEARD BY MAN
(July 1919)Woods_Moon

I have heard the moon’s beams
Sweeping the waters, making a sound
Like threads of silver, wept upon.
I have heard the scratch of the
Pulsing stars, and the purring sound
Of the slow moon as she rolled across
The night.  I have heard the shadows
Slapping the waters, and the licking
Sound of the wave’s edge as it sinks
Into the sand  upon the shore.

I have heard the sunlight as it pierced
The gloom with a golden bar, which
Whirred in a voice of myriad colors.
I have heard the sound which lay
Between the atoms which danced in the
Golden bar.  I have heard the sound
Of the leaves reclining upon their cushions
Of air, and the swish of the willow
Tassels as the wind whistled upon them,
And the sharp sound which the crawling
Mites proclaim upon the grasses blades,
And the multitude of sounds which lie
At the root of things.  Oh, I have heard
The song of resurrection which each seed
Makes as it spurts.  I have heard the sound
Of the night’s first shadow, when it 
Intermingles with the day, and the
Rushing sound of Morning’s wings as she
Flies o’er the Eastern gateway.

All of these have I heard, yet man
Hath not an ear for them.  Behold,
The miracle He hath writ within me;
Letting the chord of imagination strum!

 

THE SOUNDS OF MEN
         (July 1919)Rivera_Cour2

I have heard the music men make
Which is discord, proclaimed through
Egotry.   I have heard the churning
Of water by man’s cunning, and the
Shrieking of throttles which man addeth
Unto the day’s symphony.  I have heard
The pound of implements, and the clatter
Of blades.  I have heard the crushing blasts
Of Destruction.  I have heard men laugh
And their laughs were rusted as old vessels
In which brine wert kept.  I have heard
Women chatter like crows o’er carrion
And laugh as a magpie o’er a worm.
I have beheld all of these
And heard them.  Men have ears
For such; and the mystery of man is
That he should present them, and cry:
“Sing! Sing, Poet! Sing!”

 

 

THE BATTLE FIELD
(November 1916)

Constant_Mayer_

‘Twas morning, when my footsteps led me down the winding way.
The heavy smoke still hung the damp grey airs.
Mine eyes looked for the coming sun, but it did fail,
And weak stars fearful, trembled ‘mid the heaven’s deep.
The Earth beneath my very footfall shook.
The sod’s breast opened in gashes wide.
The field’s bloom drooped, or flamed red,
E’en as some dull fire.

And ah, mine eyes sought, sought, sought!
I looked on every way and ever saw some livid lip,
Some grinning death-oped mouth, some glaze-dimmed eye that saw
No morning’s coming, some man-stopped hand
That reached in suppliance for a brother’s grasp,
Some beast felled ‘mid his master’s blood,
Some cheek still stained of youth-fear tears,
Some empty bowl, that belched
To wipe Him from out His own, some blade,
Deep-dyed, the drops still thick’ning on its edge.

Ah, ’twas dark!  But sudden from the East,
E’en through the thick of smokes and mists,
Slipped a golden shaft that fell
E’en at my feet, to light—ah! another of the host!
A youthed son of some waiting one, his faith cut down
E’en ‘mid his faith-flashed smile; his locks crisp-young;
His cheek still stained of youth’s kiss on its curve;
His weak-sunk head at rest upon his bended arm,
And stiffened lips had failed to reach
The ebon cross that shewed within his fingers grasp.

And lo, the sun did kiss his bended head and gleam an halo ’bout.
And I did stoop to touch, and at the touching, lo,
I sunk there ‘pon the sod and wept;
And looked on high unto the weak sun climbing slow,
And oped my prayer in anguished word; for on the host that lay
God’s sun-smile shewed, and on the cross
There gleamed one word that spake me shame.

And I did raise mine eyes
And look afar unto the fields that lay,
And lo, there, cross on cross did stand,
Rude-wrought of such an stuff as His
Was builded up.  No word that, read
Might tell who lay within Earth’s breast.

And I did shut away the sight;
For His bright sun did light the hosts,
And on them showed the mocking, searing scripts,
And each one bore his shaming word:
“Brother!”  “Brother!”  “Brother!”

 

GLORIASaints

Oh ye mighty walls and towering spires astride the cowled gabled ways!
Thy emblazoned scripts depicting fanciful reaction of ancient times;
Smoking altars upon which yellow candles flare, burning the sacred air,
To send aloft a pungent scent of mouldering decay,
Blackening with slow sure touch the placid faces of the saints,
Who with stony visages gaze adown the aisles, unseeing man’s exultant
     joy or his despair.
Vault-like, in cold aloofness, proudly do ye stand, reechoing the chants
That flow from out cold tombs, the unlit hearts of priesthood and of
     saintly nuns.
For this did saints ope up their veins?  Did martyrs writhe?  And did
     holy writs
By their tedious array enslave the humble sanctity of men?
Or did men, to do their will, write with unalterable tracery
Law, that ran new within the fluid pressed in fervid troth to God?
While blood in lapping waves washed thy very doors, did Mary stand
Dumb, hearkening to some litany mumbled in a limped tongue,
And priest send incense up, or light a taper in thy pit-like dark?
Oh, everlasting God!  I am dismayed, that thy very stones did not gape
And fall apart; that every scarlet line within thy illumined records
Did not spurt in anguish and, bleeding, wipe the “law” from off the page.

Oh, holy structure, revered by man, upheld through ages through thy
     claim of part with Him!
Already is that morning come, and quaking earth upheaving!
Already doth thy mellow chime whisper its eerie knell.  Already doth
That King whom thou acclaimest sit in regal glory upon the mighty seat!
Oh, crumbling vestment of the ego,  Man—make way!  His host proceeds!
No altar yet upraised but shall give way to that his Sire hath flung
     from His prolific hand.
He, the High-priest, lights the taper Day, each morning with the sun,
And incense flings across the valley way in silver mists;
Filling the night with litanies, lighting each star in memory of some
     holy soul,
Defying mould and ravages of time, the festival of worm upon the
     festering flesh.
Exultant doth this God erect anew each coming day and night
An altar upon which to burn our hearts, while thou dost re-echo dead prayers;
Burning incense yet before the embered fire of Hope.

While thy dimming tapers die, and the carved saints stand mute before
     thy suppliants
What, should His holy step be heard naked upon the stones, with the
     pattering of sheep beside?

 

THE DAY’S WORK
(February 1926)young_man_drinking_a_glass_of_wine_400

Behold, behold, the roadways lying stretched in grey dust-patterns
     about the field, curving the hillocks like necklets of ash;
And the creeping pageantry of man, sweeping out in gentle lines upon
     the pathways of the earth;
Yea, men who sweat, men who ache, men who anguish;
Men who torture from crude stuffs, stones and clay, wondrous imagery
     which speaks their souls;
Men who dip within their hearts and write scripts which the ages yet shall read;
And men who dip within a fluid, writing that which is not thick enough to
     cast a shadow;
Men who press their breasts upon implements of labor, striking the
     pregnant soil that it belch forth its teeming utterance;
Men who idly dream dreams that shall stir the hearts of empires;
Men who labor with blind eyes, never seeing, ever striving, with
     confusion as companion;
Men who live!  live to the last bitter dreg within the cup, quaffing with
     delight the potion of death—in defiance lifting the goblet;
Men who sit within the shadow of their doubt, beholding the cup of
     death in fearing,
Waiting for Tomorrow who already hath laid her hand upon the cup’s brim—
     Tomorrow whose finger pointeth to Eternity!

So this is the pageantry of labor; these are the vitals of Day.
     Behold, when they stop the Day is finished.
This is Day’s labor, this intricate pattern of laboring;
     What pattern doth it weave?
Oh, some morrow shall I stand beside the Loom
      with the shuttles empty—
All these little crawling puppets of the day, each unwound
     of its strand of existence;
Beholding the Plan, the Pattern God wove!

 

 

 

 

 

“I Am a Child With a Magic Picture Book”

PearlCurranPrince2Pearl Curran in her article “A Nut For Psychologists”  described her mental experience when she takes dictation from Patience Worth.    She described “pictorial visions which accompany the coming of the words” from Patience Worth.  She wrote that those visions “acted as a sort of primer, and gradually developed within me a height of appreciation by persistently tempting my curiosity with representations of incidents and symbols.  I am like a child with a magic picture book.  Once I look upon it, all I have to do is to watch its pages open before me, and revel in their beauty and variety and novelty.”

dewit_mozes_70oudsten_grt

“Probably this is the most persistent phase of the phenomena, this series of panoramic and symbolic pictures which never fail to show with each expression of Patience where there is any possibility of giving an ocular illustration of an expression.”

When the poems come, there also appear before my eyes images of each successive symbol, as the words are given me.  If the stars are mentioned, I see them in the sky.  If heights or deeps or wide spaces are mentioned, I get positively frightening sweeps of space.  So it is with the smaller things of Nature, the fields, the flowers and trees, with the field animals, whether they are mentioned in the poem or not.

When the stories come, the scenes become panoramic, with the characters moving and acting their parts, even speaking in converse.  The picture is not confined to the point narrated, but takes in everything else within the circle of vision at the time.  For instance, if two people are seen talking on the street, I see not only them, but the neighboring part of the street, with the buildings, stones, dogs, people and all, just as they would be in a real scene.  (Or are these scenes actual reproductions?)  If the people talk a foreign language, as in The Sorry Tale, I hear the talk, but over and above is the voice of Patience, either interpreting or giving me the part she wishes to use as story. What a wonderful privilege this is can only be imagined by one who cannot see the actuality…. [W]hile we were writing The Sorry Tale, many a queer scene was described; the dogs in the streets, certain odd carts with wheels made of crossed reeds and cut in a circle, the peculiar harness of the oxen, the quarreling of the long-bearded market men, and the wailing of the women as they bartered for edibles, the dress of the priests, the holy of holies, and the ark as it was at that time, restored, the scenes at Bethlehem and Nazareth in which the Saviour walked among me.  This was also true of England during the transcription of Hope Trueblood, though the scenes were more familiar and therefore of less interest, but just as vivid.

One very odd and interesting phase of the phenomena is the fact that during the time of transcribing the matter and watching the tiny panorama unfold before me, I have often seen myself, small as one of the characters, standing as an onlooker, or walking among the people in the play.  When I became curious to ascertain, for instance, what sort of fruit a market man was selling, or the smell of some flower, or the feel of some texture which was foreign to my experience, this tiny figure of myself would boldly take part in the play, quite naturally, perhaps walking to the bin-side of a market man and taking up the fruit and tasting it, or smelling the flower within a garden, or feeling the cloth, or in any natural way attending to the problem in hand.  And the experience was immediately my property, as though it had been an actual experience; for it was as real to me as any personal experience, becoming physically mine, recorded by my sight, taste and smell as other experiences.  Thus I have become familiar with many flowers of strange places which I never saw, but know when I see them again in pictures.  I have shuddered at obnoxious odors, or have been quite exalted by the beauty of some object, or filled with joy at beholding some flower which I had never seen before. It is like traveling in new and unknown regions, and I am filled with an impulse to let myself go, that I may follow out the intricate pattern of the story, and gain new knowledge.  I find that I possess an uncanny familiarity with things I have never known—with the kind of jugs and lamps used in far countries in the long ago, and the various methods of cooking, or certain odd and strange customs or dress or jewelry.  I know many manners and customs of early England, or old Jerusalem, and of Spain and France.

One most peculiar thing about this work is that while I am writing there seems to be no definite place where my consciousness ceases, and that of Patience comes in.  Very early I began to notice that even while I was carefully spelling a poem, I was keenly conscious, even with an added keenness, of everything about me and of anything regarding my person at the same time.  I could feel my nose itch and scratch it, note an air of criticism on the face of one of the company, and the worshipful expression of another, think what I was going to have for midnight lunch after they had gone, and write right along on the poem, understanding it as it came, and wondering at its beauty and strength, calling the letters, then the words, pausing to let Mr. Curran catch up with the writing.