The Listening Landscape

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By Marya Zaturenska
MACMILLAN
SOMEONE once defined the romantic spirit as ‘the addition of strangeness to beauty,’ and this definition might be used of the poetry of Marya Zaturenska. She sees experience through a particular aura of her own; her verse is lit by a peculiar vision of luminous re very, of shifting cool colors, quiet and serene. It has the quality of the ‘Landscape after Poussin’ which she describes so well. She is a poet of simple emotion, and the mood of contemplation suits her best. When she attempts the note of direct passion, as in ‘The Unsepulchered,’ there is a sense of strain, and when she writes ‘the great age falls apart’ or ‘all hearts have their precipices’ the direct reminder of the poems of Yeats and Hopkins which she is echoing disturbs the atmosphere of her own verse. She is most at home in the visionary world of ‘The Holiday’ or ‘Children of the Islands,’ or in a theme like ‘The Golden Rose, which gives scope to her gift for delicate verbal pattern; or in re-creating the spirit of Hans Andersen: —
Slowly the river of the swan flows down,
Runs through warm orchards land and tranced town,
Stork-sheltered gables, flower-embanked canals,
The stream brims over, widening as it swells.
Hans Christian’s town appears, blue misted hue,
Where all is myth, dream, revery come true.
From that light world of tears and smiling dreams
We draw our thoughts as from the living streams.
E. D.