a poet, Viggo Mortensen excels. Why? Because of images
portrayed in the following poem, Five Thousand Years, from his
book, Coincidence of Memory. The last three lines form an
image of timelessness that reverberates back to the title. It also
has sound--of the echoes of living, as portrayed by "school
bells" that "echo." It also has space--of
"north and south." It also has pain--of "dying
fields" and "bloody quarries."
Also, there are wonderful techniques
that he uses, such as how "dying fields" continues on to
"across the sea." The fact he cuts the line in this way
is to give you something unexpected--"dying fields across the
sea" gives a fresh image. The fields and quarries are
paralleled from across the sea. The color here is
"brown" because of the dying fields and of the desert, and
this color is repeated at the 13th line of the poem.
Another effective cut is how the word,
"rulers"--meaning "pharoahs" becomes a schoolchild's
instrument because of the next line. This one word becomes packed
with many levels of meaning from one line to the other.
Another example is the cut from
"echo" to "north and south." This image
reinforces the two rivers mirroring each other.
Overall, I really like the feel, sound,
and the depth of this poem.
FIVE THOUSAND YEARS
A LONG, LONG WAY
OMAHA TO CAIRO.
THE DYING FIELDS
THE BLOODY QUARRIES
THEY KEEP DIGGING
THE TWIN BROWN
OF THE MISSOURI
More poetry here and Poetry Site Map.
Mortenson Poetry can
be bought here:
Viggo Mortensen Index