The Poetry of Ellin Anderson

(Painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti)


Ellin Anderson

If January has a heart,
Slow-turning Venus plays that part:
Ascending in the West,
Night-bound, in silver masquerade,
Through arctic skies as green as jade,
She holds a glass to what the mind loves best.

Enraptured by that mirror-beam,
The stricken watcher can redeem
One chance at evening prayer:
One brittle ticket, to unfold
Words desperate from dearth and cold:
White garlands hanging in the dry blue air.

They fall, and freeze, and find their way
To branches bright with frozen spray,
There, on the apple tree
That leans above the water's edge
As witness to each solemn pledge:
Passion with patience and fidelity.

Passion with patience and fidelity,
Towards all the trappings of worldly vanity;
A quest for hollow pride:
Icicles hang there, sword on sword,
Blindness and dazzlement, the young girl's reward;
Cold, cold comfort by the warm fireside.

Distorted by some evil elf,
The star grows mirror to the Self
With room for one alone
And there within the sunless waste,
Bereft by choices made in haste,
Wanders the one she might have called her own!

And although the knight may stumble and drown,
Venus is bright, and looks lovingly down
Into the frozen wood,
As the pale souls flutter, just where the stream narrows,
Pointing fingers of blame, instead of sweet arrows
At the empty space where the wish-maker stood.

And the garlanded lads and lasses are gone,
Yet Venus marks out their old path on the lawn
With her eternal wheel,
As if her sympathy might restore
The blue eyed, rosy-cheeked angels that pour
From each cottage door, where the round and the reel

Carried the dancers into the glade
Where the spring heat marries the flickering shade
To fronds of the maidenhair;
And a wind goes whispering into the ferns
While the white sun kisses as much as it burns
Cool skin, in the strangeness of forest air.

For the votives of Venus down in the dale
Felt the fire and chaos behind her veil
Of pale and placid light,
When simplicity knew that the soul is a nest
That dies in silence, alone and at rest,
And lives through the loves that fledge into flight.

Turner of hearts, where are you now?
Rocking the cradle that bends the bough
On our forgotten farms,
So the great and the simple will understand:
Those who cherish their children will win the land,
And cradles are a treasury of arms!

Some April thunder yet unsung
Will grant the legions of the young
Love's arrow-shaft and flame,
And in the glow of Love's increase,
The dove whose victory is Peace
Nestles where Mother is a holy name.

Before they hear a bluebird sing,
Before the early green of spring
Paints what the sun makes warm,
Oh, Venus Verticordia,
With violet and primula,
Open them to the storm,
And turn hearts like pinwheels in the hands of a child
Seeking a hilltop where the wind is wild.

2007 by Ellin Anderson. All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be copied or used in any way
without written permission from the author.



Dante Gabriel Rossetti

She hath the apple in her hand for thee,
Yet almost in her heart would hold it back;
She muses, with her eyes upon the track
Of that which in thy spirit they can see.
Haply, 'Behold, he is at peace,' the dart
That follows its brief sweetness to his heart,
The wandering of his feet perpetually!'
A little space her glance is still and coy;
But if she give the fruit that works her spell,
Those eyes shall flame as for her Phrygian boy.
Then shall her bird's strained throat the woe foretell,
And her far seas moan as a single shell,
And through her dark grove strike the light of Troy.

Acrostic anagram of "Venus Verticordia" by Richard Brodie



  Eat this
Loath to
Lo, she
In that
Now fortune's

After her
No ecstasies,
Demurely placid
Eyes seen
Rekindle fervidly
She'll wear,
Of pangs
Nubile, divine
 Delightsome fiendish fruit that she,
 Allow to leave her breast, doth hold.
 Now sees this treatment harsh for thee,
 Thou shalt with heart forlorn lapse old.
 Eye hath looked at thee; yet hark!

 Rending lance hath hit its mark
 Oh gypsy, shall there be.
 She'll thus briefly stay;
 Serene first, as with Paris, they
 Ere cypress garb
 That wrap which shall pronounce the plight
 That I receive of this spear's flight,
 If touched by that Greek barb.



Brodie's Reflections on his Poetic Anagram honoring Ellin Anderson

When I realized that Rossetti's poem has 13 lines and that both artists' names consist of 13 letters divided identically between first and last names, I knew that I was being handed a unique anagramming opportunity. So in addition to the usual constraints of reusing the original's exact letter set, maintaining rhyme and meter, and restating the poetic content using entirely different words, I decided to accept the additional challenge of incorporating a double acrostic.

There are two reasons I have chosen to reserve the primary acrostic (first letters of each line) for "Ellin Anderson," and use the secondary acrostic (first letters of the third word of each line) for "Dante Rossetti." 

First, poetry is Anderson's primary vocation while for Rossetti, who is known mostly for his paintings, it is only secondary.

Secondly, in addition to personally preferring Anderson's literary work, I believe that history will judge her poetic output as a pivotally  important contribution to Western culture. This is due not only to how it presages a renaissance of what is noble in style and instructive in content, but also because of its power to inspire those who will preserve, protect, and expand upon that incomparable civilizational heritage of which Ellin Anderson's work is a wonderfully representative flowering.

 - Richard Brodie, August 2007

St. Patrick's Day
Tiger and Blue Jewel

Winter's Hill
Maple-Key Song
November in Camelot

Wassail Song
The Rooster at Midsummer
Liberty Enlightens the People

The Leap
The Goldfinch
Three Bears
Song of the Lily
White Tree at Twilight
The Christmas Tree

Grand Bois du Nord
The Owl
Moth Summer
The Little God of Joy
Photographing the Moon
A Rabbit
Rose, Do You Know
The Two Pining Bachelors

The Harvest Chorus
The Maple Mask
Ghost Cardinal

The Little Heath-Rose
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Song for the Harp

The Spinner
The Prayer of Cephalus
Circe and Ulysses
The Black Arts
Tristan and Isolde & Jupiter's Two Casks

Home Page

More Poems by Ellin Anderson

The Little Mermaid
Anne's Hearth