In a Station of the Metro
by Ezra Pound
The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.
I Choose the Mountain
by Howard Simon
The low lands call
I am tempted to answer
They are offering me a free dwelling
Without having to conquer
The massive mountain makes its move
Beckoning me to ascend
A much more difficult path
To get up the slippery bend
I cannot choose both
I have a choice to make
I must be wise
This will determine my fate
I choose, I choose the mountain
With all its stress and strain
Because only by climbing
Can I rise above the plain
I choose the mountain
And I will never stop climbing
I choose the mountain
And I shall forever be ascending
I choose the mountain
My Heart Leaps Up
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
The genre: Poetry
The gist: Poems about love, LA, feeling lost, and finding yourself.
The background: Not much except that I should probably give a heads up that I’m biased as a fan of Lana Del Rey’s music, so when I heard she was putting out a poetry collection last year I figured I’d like it.
The tea: The poems in this book read to me like the more elevated version of Tumblr poetry—you know, those overly simplistic poems that are more like statements with lots of line breaks that suddenly transform them into something “deep”—but here’s how I actually mean that as a compliment:
I like the accessibility of these kinds of poems. I don’t think a poem needs to be an inscrutable puzzle or have layers and layers of meaning to be effective.
While Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass is more mature and insightful than Tumblr poetry, the poems have the same kind of approachability and give you something to latch onto when reading. They’re about relatable situations, like getting over someone, moving to a new city, the current state of the world.
Plus, I like that lines like, “Sugar sugar lips and teeth / fingertips touch emojis” speak to present-day love and intimacy; sure, a letter or phone call is easier to romanticize than pressing a button to send a digital heart to your lover—that’s why I appreciate artists who embrace this aspect of modern living and can make it sound just as romantic.
Accompanying the typewriter-page poems are lo-fi, brightly filtered photos of LA taken by Del Rey. The whole package might come off as artsy hipster overkill if it weren’t so predictably on-brand for Lana Del Rey, and why fix what works? It’s a pretty aesthetic.
The wrap-up: Reading through these reflective and dreamily worded poems while glancing at the hazy LA visuals isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon or two. Especially if you like contemporary poetry or Lana’s music.
The rating: ⭐⭐⭐/5
May my eyes always stay level to the horizon, may they never gaze as high as heaven to ask why
May I never go where angels fear to tread, so as to have to ask for answers in the sky
The whys in this lifetime I’ve found are inconsequential compared to the magic of nowness– the solution to most questions
there are no reasons, and if there are– i’m wrong
but at least i won’t have spent my life waiting
looking for God in the clouds of the dawn—Lana Del Rey, Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass
No Man Is an Island
by John Donne
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
A Coney Island of the Mind, 13
Not like Dante
discovering a commedia
upon the slopes of heaven
I would paint a different kind
in which the people would be naked
as they always are
in scenes like that
because it is supposed to be
a painting of their souls
but there would be no anxious angels telling them
how heaven is
the perfect picture of
and there would be no fires burning
in the hellish holes below
in which I might have stepped
nor any altars in the sky except
fountains of imagination
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
—Rupi Kaur, Home Body