Poem #365

Dare you see a soul at the white heat?
then crouch within the door
red is the fire’s common tint
but when the vivid ore
has sated flame’s condition
it quivers from the forge
without a color but the light
of unanointed blaze
Least village has its blacksmith
whose anvil’s even ring
stands symbol for the finer forge
that soundless tugs within
refining the impatient ores
with hammer and with blaze
until the designated light
repudiate the forge


HWL's Comment

Date of writing: Apr 14, 1980

Comment: The poem is dedicated to extremest female sexual heat. It is the “designated light”. I had early come to think of this poem as one dedicated to nymphomanic arousal, and as such as of a condition of some permanence in her sexual individuality. But seeing to come in sequence of “The morning after wo” which I discussed just a while ago, I am now conscious of its peculiar connection with the interdiction of her relationship with Kate by Bowles and her subsequent first new intercourse with him again. It is however possible that the reference is to the final intimacy with Kate which Bowles seems to have allowed the two lovers on that interdiction day. It is also possible, if perhaps not quite probable that Bowles took pay at once in lesbian attendance to his glans on this occasion, and that this may be meant with: “when the vivid ore has sated flame’s condition”. No matter. The main point to this poem is that she succeeded to give superior expression to a concern that bothered her strongly all through her poetry; that of her exceedingly virile sexiness. Her muse took off on that theme many times and brought forth some good expressions of it. This one climbed to parnassian heights on her symbolizing concepts of “glow” and “light” perhaps more than on any other: the innate, mentally, spiritually incited sexual urge which she calls “the finer forge that soundless tugs within” over and above “the even ring of the anvil least vagina’s common black-smith hammers out in common sexual intercourse”. I hold this to be her main meaning with this poem, but I concede that her multiple muse formulated her thought broadly enough that the lesbian orientation and masturbation can also be comprehended under the symbol “the finer forge that soundless tugs within”. Both are capable on occasion to blaze forth with the “white heat” of hugest, most unsatiable urge.