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Marsden Hartley

Marsden Hartley was born on January 4, 1877, in Lewiston, Maine. Known for his renowned expressionist paintings, he also published Twenty-five Poems (Contact Press, 1923). He died on September 2, 1943, in Ellsworth, Maine.

By This Poet

3

Fishmonger

I have taken scales from off
The cheeks of the moon.
I have made fins from bluejays’ wings,
I have made eyes from damsons in the shadow.
I have taken flushes from the peachlips in the sun.
From all these I have made a fish of heaven for you,
Set it swimming on a young October sky.
I sit on the bank of the stream and watch
The grasses in amazement
As they turn to ashy gold.
Are the fishes from the rainbow
Still beautiful to you,
For whom they are made,
For whom I have set them,
Swimming?

Salutations to a Mouse

If a mouse makes a nest
Of one's written words,
Is there else to do but accept
The flattery?
I have deemed it wise to do so.
I have thanked him
Sufficiently
As he scurried in and out
Of the room.
He has faced wither
With a nest of my words.
I did not suspect them
Of such worth against the cold.

Local Boys and Girls Small Town Stuff

A panther sprang at the feet
Of the young deer in the gray wood. 
It was the lady who had sworn
To love him,
That rose, wraithlike
From the flow of his blood.
He swooned with her devotions.

There was never one 
More jolly and boyish
Than he was, in the great beginning.
Once his slippers were fastened
With domesticity,
He settled down
Like a worn jaguar
Weary with staring through bars.
The caresses that were poured
Over his person
Staled on him. 
Love had grown rancid.
Have you emptied the garbage
John?

Prometheus fire
Never can worship
The smell of hams and hocks
Issuing from the smokehouse.
The odours of the street
Hold enticements
That bear entertaining. 
There is at least
The tincture of virility
Present.