Song of a Wandering Gustafson

 Song of a Wandering Gustafson

I walked out to a corporate wood
because a fire was in my head
and cut my gathers from my skirts
and lined their darks with pin-stripe thread,
and when white moths were on the wing–
by that I mean some flits of art–
bad enough to be a she–
and not, as well, an odd man out–

But soon I lay me on the floor,
the fire blown to full-haired flame
by need’s hot rustle with what-for
as other needs called out my name,
and what had seemed a glimmering girl,
if not with apple-blossomed hair
(nor cherry lips nor beauty fair),
called herself my name and ran
and faded through the track-lit air

Though I’ve grown old with wandering
through dollared lands and billing lands,
I will find out where I have gone,
take back my lips, take back my hands,
and browse among long dog-eared tomes
and write my own and write my own
beneath a moon as bright as bone
beneath a sun as white as bone.


This is very much a draft poem for my own prompt on Real Toads to take inspiration from another poem.  I really did not mean those doing the prompt to be so imitative, though mine is –my source poem The Song of the Wandering Aengus by Yeats.  (I’d like to have made it more lyrical, but well, this is what came out.)  The painting is mine.  All rights reserved. 

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17 Comments on “Song of a Wandering Gustafson”

  1. Sherry Marr Says:

    This is beautiful – rhythmic (to perfection), lyrical and glorious to read. This would sound so good read aloud.

  2. Candy Says:

    this feels wistful to me and I love the “almost” repeating lines at the end 😉

  3. Love the rhythm. 🙂

    Greetings from London.

  4. I had to read it aloud… and the rhythm is perfection. I actually love the irony of being lost in the billing of the corporate world… to find yourself again from that wood to those childhood dreams is a great theme of a poem… Love how you used Yeats to guide you back.

  5. and browse among long dog-eared tomes
    and write my own and write my own

    There comes a time when one wants to take a breather and recollect on what had been the road taken. Thanks for the prompt K! They are beautiful paintings. Just go on painting!


  6. Miss Stacy Says:

    this flows like magic.
    particularly can relate to the feel of the ‘fire in your head.’
    great take on this prompt!

  7. Every time the postscript to one of your poems (which I have absolutely loved) says that it is just a “draft”, I feel a bit lightheaded. I hope you read the revision aloud. I love the way the words move; the tone and rhythm go so yummily with the anxiety in the voice.

  8. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I adore the lyrical element of your poem, the meter and rhyme is gorgeous. But the poem filled me with such glee to see Yeats’ classic given a more modern twist, corporate world and feminist angst included. The second stanza is my favourite for its sheer beauty of imagery.

  9. hedgewitch Says:

    You certainly show us how it is done here–to take a source and run with it to find and definitely make it sing in your own voice under the haunting melody of the original–this is a great translation of a poem you introduced me to and which I love above many of Yeats’ much more erudite and complex pieces–and this too, I truly love. Not only will you write under bright and white moon and sun, but you do. Already. You do. Thanks for a challenge that seemed very difficult at first but then was a great deal of help to my muse-silent self (and a great deal of enjoyment in the end.)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      You are super welcome. Thanks for your very kind comment. I really had not meant to suggest that one do something as close as this one is to the Yeats–but it is a poem that I know so well that I really couldn’t move very far from it. I’m gratified to hear that I introduced you to that poem of Yeats as it really is one of his best in my view, just deeply beautiful. k.

  10. C.C. Says:

    I adore the image of a glimmering girl calling herself by your name and then you, after growing old from wandering,
    “will find out where I have gone,
    take back my lips, take back my hands.”
    The lyricism inherent throughout this entire piece enhances the theme so splendidly 🙂

  11. Jim Says:

    K, I like your rendition of the female point of view of Yeats ‘wandering girl.’ Right away his reminded me of the oldie song, “The Roving Kind” [(She had a dark and a-rovin’ eye-uh-eye and her hair hung down in ring-a-lets) (She was a nice girl, a proper girl but one of the rovin’ kind).]
    I have thought of writing the girl’s side for the Rving Kind. It is one of my all time favorites. Besides, I’m a bit of a wanderer myself, just tamed down with age.

  12. Really cool reading the poems side by side … You did well bringing Yeats’ Golden Oldie up to modern times!

  13. I will find out where I have gone,
    take back my lips, take back my hands,
    and browse among long dog-eared tomes
    and write my own and write my own

    I love that. I often go wondering through another’s poetry, doubt my voice, yet return to write as me

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