The Poetry of Marie Ponsot

The acclaimed poet Marie Ponsot began writing poetry for America in the 1950s. Elizabeth Kirkland Cahill writes about  the poet's love of language in the February 14 issue. Here we offer a few of Ponsot's compositions for the magazine:


Rejoice rejoice that the taken seed
asserts its place; the voice
love summoned up now shouts out, Be
become, come; we
dare to rejoice.


Others name God, praise God;
we merely and perfectiy exhibit Him;
our silent blood embraces seed and shape
God warrants good. Our rejoicing voices
tremble but do not trouble the unborn
witnesses who wear
God's garment gloriously.

Glory be to God or love and love, the time
needs lovers; make them.
Lunar months will form, wake and show them
sacred forever and knowing, as may
the God-made, God-loved, how to love.

May 21, 1955


adam, afterward

Struggle makes its own strict sense.
The will kept sharp keeps free.
Learns reflex skill, cuts out pretense
   (the eye in the reed, the joint in the vine,
   the knot in the tree),

Dark evidence beneath the bark 
Stars the wood where marvelousiy
Fruited branches rose, and left a mark
   (the eye in the reed, the joint in the vine,
   the knot in the tree).

The notch is thick-rimmed to maintain
Grapes rounding out with wine
Against the beat and weight of rain
   (the knot in the tree, the eye in the reed,
   the joint in the vine).

Rushes raise up a thread-spined length
In tlie chancy thrust toward seed,
Rooted and standing in fragile strength
   (the joint in the vine, the knot in the tree,
   the eye in the reed).

Bones never broken lack the core
And doubled strength of tbose that be
Knitted to themselves once more
   (the eye in the reed, the joint in the vine,
   the knot in die tree).

March 22, 1958


He who would present himself
Before your gates
Buys back his bartered blood
Trusting you with his hates.

Who, hurrying, would trace your way,
Adjust to you as you are.
Even harried in the everyday, let's say,
Shadow of a midtown bar,
Will make work child's play.

Will pray his work, must be prepared
In tracking you, to see at any time
Himself, sacked, dead-ended, scared,
Stopped on a dime

And, where your passageway ought to wind
There he will face a mirrored wall
With a mirrored wall behind.
He must expect though he wants to advance
To crash to his knees in fear
At the last, as the walls smash and
Their glancing fragments dance,
Dissolve and disappear.

Who learns you by heart is hushed for good.
Is hotly, loudly, true.
Is not even by his own mind understood;
Who by heart learns you
Will decrease, will increase,
Will have all anguish as his neighborhood,
And as his mother, peace.

July 12, 1958

Cassation for Good Friday

Space drains from the air between the woman and son;
They seem closer together; dark overleaps the land
As hope and memory pour into the shape of time
And time, at its full, at crux, crashes.
Silent, the woman of fifty and her sudden son
Keep their eyes empty of refusal, continue to stand,
Continue to watch the high man leap to his iron limit
In shortening thrusts.

                                Feathered by the lash
Like a love-wild bird he leaps for breath.
At tlie end of the dance he invents death.

At the end of the love-dance, the used-up man
Bows mystery-high in the quiet, exploded air.
The dancer hangs. The lover goes. The sky bends
Up, back and away from woman and boy, who stare
As if at each other; home, she goes to the window;
A lion lounges down the street.
The boy is waiting for friends.
Every unsuitable thing takes place.
The day never ends.

April 23, 1960

Photo of Marie Ponsot by Rosemary Deen.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Louis Templeman
8 years 1 month ago
Thanks so much.  I am delighted.  This is my first taste of her work. 
Maggie Rose
8 years 1 month ago
ah. thank you. (btw: scan/typo in "cassation for good friday" should anyone have a spare moment to change "... at the end of the dance he invents death ..."


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