Do You See?

TSVETAEVA: “Where does such tenderness come from?”; Sky’s Light and Dinner

Two words were thrown at me recently — “imagination” and “absence”. In random situations. Rather, I caught them, the way one catches a ball lobbed high up in the air.

In “A Poetry of Absence,” David B. Morris suggests that “imagination in the eighteenth- century normally refers to the mind’s ability to make or receive pictorial images. As mainly pictorial compositions, dreams not only communicate with unusual speed and vividness but also maintain a strong link with emotions” (Morris 238).

Let me plug a block quote here from Morris:

“A poetics of absence appropriate to the eighteenth century would take as its distinctive image not the void or abyss – where the rich material world encounters its opposite state of nothingness – but the ruin. Ruins are the trace of something that has vanished. As eighteenth-century poets employ the image, a ruin is less the sign of a distinct past, like the famous monument commemorating the London fire, than an evocation of something lost beyond recovery while nonetheless still persisting in fragments, remnants, and flashes of recollection. The ruin gives absence, so to speak, a material dwelling: a rock-solid site that, paradoxically, embodies a sense that the world is also porous, uncertain, and insubstantial. Its power in eighteenth century poetry derives from this implicit doubleness combining solidity with evanescence, like Rome as Piranesi depicted it in his Vedute di Roma (begun in the late 1740s), with shrubs sprouting from tumbledown classical arches, fallen statues beside overgrown temples, wooden shacks propped against the cenotaphs.” (The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Poetry; 11 A poetry of absence; Morris)

In my mind I thought of a poem not from the time I state above, but one written more recently … somewhere close to this theme:

“Where does such tenderness come from?” BY MARINA TSVETAEVA

Where does such tenderness come from?
These aren’t the first curls
I’ve wound around my finger—
I’ve kissed lips darker than yours.
The sky is washed and dark
(Where does such tenderness come from?)
Other eyes have known
and shifted away from my eyes.
But I’ve never heard words like this
in the night
(Where does such tenderness come from?)
with my head on your chest, rest.
Where does this tenderness come from?
And what will I do with it? Young
stranger, poet, wandering through town,
you and your eyelashes—longer than anyone’s.



I am NOT thinking of ruins. But of images. Imagination. Poetics of absence.

Poetics of absence enables a conjurer ‘s delight. Imagination is a tool as much as it is a necessity. My appeal to poetry cohorts would be to locate that space in your writing — in terms of persona, body, objects, nature, language.


Went for a lovely dinner at a friend’s place. Out in the Scottish country. The food, the wine, the laughter — everything was just perfect. We looked out of the window from the dinner table to see the sun go down. The sky’s light as thin and shimmering as a Japanese lantern at day break. It was cheerful. It was pensive. The dusk was heady. The dusk was delirious. It pined after my heart. Only if I had one left.

“The ruin gives absence, so to speak, a material dwelling.” I’m not surprised. My new poetry already has succumbed to this oddity.


6 comments on “TSVETAEVA: “Where does such tenderness come from?”; Sky’s Light and Dinner

  1. Mihir Vatsa
    May 25, 2012

    Very nice poem by Maria Tsvetaeva. Have fun in Staaarrrrling. 😀

  2. Do You See
    May 25, 2012

    Having fun, Vatsa! And the name’s MARINA 🙂

  3. rohith
    May 26, 2012

    Reading your stuff pushes my boundaries of imagination. Been talking with my brother about the theory of literature through the pages of history (our discussion always stream along the banks of Marxism) and we concluded with the point that creativity’s basic idea is to push the boundaries of existing ideas in a society. How ideally your writing suits for our conclusion…thanx for giving that link nabina.

    “A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.”

    not just a poem but any kind of art work is a contribution to reality

  4. Do You See
    May 26, 2012

    Rohith, appreciate that kind comment. As long as the conversation goes on, poetry, or for that matter, any art, is bound to open newer doors for us. Honestly, though, this blog is unstructured and does not intend to instruct. We can keep talking poetry any day. Most welcome!

    Was that a Dylan quote, btw?

    • rohith003
      May 28, 2012

      Ha! Dt’s quote just say…how important a good piece of art is in reality.

    • rohith003
      May 28, 2012

      Dt’s quote just say …how important a good piece of art is to reality.

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This entry was posted on May 24, 2012 by in 18th century poetry, David Morris, MARINA TSVETAEVA, Nabina Das, poetry, Uncategorized.
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