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Title: poems of yes and no

Author: Bartlett, Elizabeth

Release Date: October 11, 2018 [EBook #58080]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Al Haines, produced from scans provided by Steven Bartlett

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Elizabeth Bartlett

Poems of Yes and No, was originally published in 1952 by Editorial Jus in Mexico City, and is now out-of-print. The author's literary executor, Steven James Bartlett, has decided to make the book available as an open access publication, freely available to readers through Project Gutenberg under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivs license, which allows anyone to distribute this work without changes to its content, provided that both the author and the original URL from which this work was obtained are mentioned, that the contents of this work are not used for commercial purposes or profit, and that this work will not be used without the copyright holder's written permission in derivative works (i.e., you may not alter, transform, or build upon this work without such permission). The full legal statement of this license may be found at:

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yes and no

elizabeth bartlett

editorial jus

some of these poems have appeared in poetry chapbook, arizona quarterly, southwest review, prairie schooner, university of kansas city review, new york times and mexican life magazine

yes, paul — with all my heart

first edition



search the wild wind
lesson on five fingers
journey to jerusalem
prayer for four seasons
while I live
life I love
mood on a string
time is a palette
dusk I love
the lovers
whatever else may be
tropic time
the wind and the rain
the now and here
swallows return
reply to critics


step softly
I would remember
now and forever
beyond cost
summer and winter
item: body found
on trial
washday in the tropics
only this
alter ego
this much I know about time
in the wake of sleep
cold wakening
weather forecast
measured interval
black sun
log for a voyage
notes for the future

Yes page

search the wild wind

search the wild wind
when the foals of spring leap by
leave the summer colts behind
nose up, head high

stretch the hill's ribs
when the stable gates are wide
lead the mares from manger cribs
stallion with pride

reach the storm's heart
when the world is lost to sight
buck the sky and cliffs apart
clouds black, snow white

pitch a new tent
when the greengrass disappears
paw beneath the crystal scent
sweet leaves, fresh spears

march with the dawn
when the nights grow long and cold
seek for pastures not yet born
rider, be bold

lesson on five fingers

now that I have learned
how seasons are returned
brook my laughter here
to the running years
waterfall the fears

now that I realize
how much the world denies
green my sense leaves bright
to chlorophyl of light
photocell the nights

now that I have found
how each must choose his ground
terrace my piece of time
to a hill of sweet limes
stairway the climb

now that I have seen
how cunning walks between
mountain my trust high
to the pigmy wise
landslide the lies

now that I understand
how heart unites with hand
radar the future free
to the dove singing me
laurel the peace

journey to jerusalem

sky our thoughts to midnight
that hold no noon's repose
silence speaks in clearer voice
than day's tumultuous crows

unpave the streets to earthscape
grass pillow to our heads
as virgin stars attend once more
moon music forested

mountain our hearts to the lion
tender our hands to the dove
olive the branch over zion
to israelite our love

flower this hope to the springtime
summer our dream with its fruit
festive the fields in the autumn
winter the future's root

prayer for four seasons

rain, rain on me
make me green
as lettuce leaf
at spring's fresh core

sun, shine on me
burn me bright
as coral reef
on island shore

wind, blow on me
sweep me clean
as grain fields tall
for autumn's mill

stars, sing for me
lark the night
as snowflakes fall
on woods and hill


all the hills of the world lie here
    aeolus ride your winds
the skybound clouds leap out like deer
    daedalus fly your wings

the fields are green with sun and shade
    pegasus strike your hoof
the silence sings, the people fade
    hesperus light my roof

the ocean's wide and far away
    tantalus drink your fill
no distant lands draw me astray
    orpheus bring your skill

olympus is within my heart
    poetry lift me high
with pagan joy I sing my art
    melody till I die


tell me, in this high land of mountained length
where time is green and space big-bellied
with fruitful plains rockribbed by corn and bean
for simple courage, do you know strength
as something earned through bitterness of need
in narrow streets and tortured rooms, oh hungry lean

listen, above the winding road come sounds
descending on bells, sky voices and wind
mixing with the shy four footed ones' cries,
what do they tell, can you hear from the grounds
of city skyscrapers through the tunnelthinned
walls that rail the nervetracked brain with wooden ties

look you, whose eyes are wise with too much seen
through doors and windows, in whom the sunlight
is confined by steel canyons and arctic
nights, here is heart space, here clouds rise between
warm currents to open roofs, see how the height
of climb and width of free brightens to tropic

taste this, you tongue lovers, you gourmets, you
who know the ends for which the palette buds
bloom to burst on a thousand sauces, wines,
rare meats and molded cheeses, what brew
is this, what essence extracted from muds
and rooted origins of leaf that taste defines

breathe, ah breathe again, purge out the unclear
lungs, the downbent head, smell has other use
than multiplies in shop and factory
to substitute the sense, no need to fear
the pure air here, to hide subtle and obtuse
behind the mob's excuse, here the wind blows free

reach out, know touch as up and down, the span
of head to heel, thigh to shoulder, each side
with rough of bark to blossom, stone to dust,
how else but by the feel, the real, can man
press nature to his will and impel his pride
in shaping to his needs an earth which he can trust

go up, your feet will take you high above
streets and buildings to a new position
forget the old appointments, you have a more
important one with God to measure love
not by the scrupled ways of acquisition
but freely as the stars that follow and explore

while I live

my love is a hart seeking the waterfall
where he may press two lips against its crystal
depths—see how he leaps to kiss the imaged mist
that bubbles up beneath him—he staggers, kissed

my love is an alpine trail that mountains climb
above clouds and timber to heights out of time
and measure—no distance there or memory
for weak foot and tired brain—but death only

my love is a trumpet sustaining its call
to the last clear breath—listen, the interval,
out of canyon silences, on the dry wind,
the throat of night catches, its echoes are thinned

my love is a dream where childhood fell asleep
beckoned by shadows that lengthen as they creep;
now she sighs, weeps, losing her way—morning wakes
the sleeper and she smiles, her eyes are lakes


ah never say the dreams were false
that boy and girl were madly bold
not time but timeless changes all
man and woman we should know

what we dreamed was what we were
and could not timeless be
two strange wild things in universe
too tame for altering

then let them keep without reserve
the wings they had prepared
and while we walk a humbled earth
see them with spirit dare

life I love

life I love who know the heart's unease
the mind's disease, the search unending
to a blind conclusion

I have gone so many ways
towards praise, away from blame
to find seclusion

known coldest doubt and passionate release
the after peace of countless wars grown tired
by their own diffusion

how many changes seen: chance days
nights, the grays of violent and tame
mixed in the time's confusion

dreamed plans, wished hopes without cease
no single piece of life sought
without delusion

and yet have loved each coming, going blaze
each phase, willed and thrilled to every flame
that brightened the illusion

then let me know death as one who foresees
breath's end to seize a new beginning
through the soul's transfusion

mood on a string

again the after rain and shine of night
when mellow yellow patternings of light
make rivers run through streets of mirrors bright
to where the air brings thought from its seclude
as though a silver magnet drew a rood
about the mind's internal solitude

then is the darkness gentle to my sight
with glossy lamps to toss me into flight
and give to sleep the freeness of a kite
that after storm can rise in amplitude
above the clinging wet still unsubdued
to sail in lonely splendor wind pursued

time is a palette

each day has its color
each day its own color
on the wheel

and they are wrong who say
all colors are gray
they are blind
or else

well I remember the primary days
the reds and yellows and blues
those brilliant saturated hues
each its own bright self

a day red as a ripe warm plum
on the mouth
staining chin and blouse with summer
while leaves on a red tree flamed
in crimson joy

and there were other reds
for feathers dipped in blood
to sign youth's honor on a windless sky
running over rooftops
most solemneyed

or red for something velvet deep
over quivering flesh and trembling hair
stabbing the breath
with a wild commotion
like coroncitas on a christmas tree

a vivid red each time
coloring morning to evening canvas
of that particular day
connecting sleep with sleep
in the intimate dye

yellow was first word for gold
then sun
and it was always rich
like the promise of a wedding ring
or shining birthday coin

yellow was wish
more often than anything seen or heard
except for the canary my father kept
as his own yellow sign
pure and unalloyed

mostly it was feeling
the evidence and substance in one
symbol of perfection and as rare
when harsh-cold-rough were there
it wasn't yellow

precious as treasure
awarded by the gods to saint and hero
like the holy grail
the lost chord
those unrecoverable legends

blue was definite
less temperamental than red
more tangible than yellow
like summer sigh or puff of winter air
the outlines of dawn to dusk

blue was practical and necessary
like the blueing used in my mother's wash
like smoke
water air and sky blue
for everything clear and understandable

but blue had magic too
meaning giant ships and giant fish
rockets to the moon and planet shores
too big and far away
too terribly true

a glamorous color blue
suiting cinderella's glass slipper
forget me nots and chinese porcelain
and once I found a blue shell
so fragile I let it crumble on the sand

but even the primary colors
are not all the colors
and each day has its color
each day radiates its own color
on the wheel

and they are wrong who say
all colors are gray
unable to remember
unwilling to separate
with desperate impatience

dusk I love

dusk I love who know the morning's light
the night's darkness, the black and white
of yes and no and all false and true

I have lived with definite so long
with wrong and right, with weak and strong
with how much undefined dusk by you

for I have seen the between hours
when towers grew soft as flowers
and cold stones were stemmed in warmest hue

and I have watched a kind gentle grace
take place behind the coarser face
unloose the many masks old and new

I too felt the purple air's dissent
from meant purpose and clear intent
nothing certain but a changing view

then let me have time's dusk perspective
to give the life men think they live
an outer shape and an inner clue

the lovers

after the sunlight over barren fields
after the dry wind through stony creeks
we found our little green where lilies were
and knee deep oxen stood watching us
triumphant under trees... for this was peace
as nature meant nature's peace to be
with fertile soil made ready by its need
with instincts tamed in gentler ways than fear
with freedom measured freely as the sky
measures breath... we lay there side by side
breathing kisses, feeling the wet and cool
of bodies grassed in loving, each a groove
within a groove seeking counterpart
with close-open-close, with light in dark
and waves lapping... we heard the overflow
of lake on buttressed dam down sluiced walls
making music in ditches, singing birth
to stalks in the earth, with giant surge
of up and out bringing humanity
a greater day for love... then happily
we rose and barefoot walked the golden green
to where horses and men waded beneath
multifoliate rays of setting sun
their work done before the darkness come
to cheat them... together all of us swam
glad for the fresh clean water which ran
on hands and hoofs, on flesh and hide, like beams
bathing between, feeling our oneness sweet
reward, for the sun was a broken sword
pointing the peace towards our tomorrow

whatever else may be

as long as you're happy
    there were flowers on the street
    and sweetmeats at noon
    and a high wind in the towers

as long as you're happy
    there were mornings in the sun
    and nights in the moon
    and a magic in the warnings

as long as it was long
    heart was head and hands were feet
    heat was heavy, still
    and words were trees with roots of red

as long as—happy song
    wish was flight and new worlds won
    space was empty, chill
    and lips were birds with feathers light

    for long is as long as
    life is as strong as
    ah to be happy and free

tropic time

here before old leaves go
    new leaves come in
here before old loves know
    new loves begin

now when the year's one spring
    no season chills
now when the fear's one thing
    no reason kills

this is time after then
    there was regret
this time is laughter when
    where we forget


the winds have abated and the rain
now the lonely dark comes again
with blue lines running in the mind
with hands explorative and blind

(was it the bitter taste of smoke
or pepper berries? lips parted spoke
words out of kisses bringing fears
no nearer to relief than tears)

now memory is of lightning, flares
in the night, with darkeyed cares
encircling universes strange
as the skies through which they range

thunder removes to distant space—
from quiet woods where ancient grace
roots tree in soil and lake is mild
only the stormbird's flight is wild

the wind and the rain

thoughts in my head
like wind through pines

    lift to north
    veer to south
    shift to east
    rear to west

the wind not the pines
till my thoughts are dead

love in my heart
like rain on dust

    stirs to dawn
    dries to noon
    whirs to dusk
    cries to night

the rain not the dust
till my love depart


worthier than words the meaning kiss
which makes true poetry of lips
which sets a wisdom into rhyme
no pen can simulate by line

music has cadence but heartbeats sound
what no ear ever tuned beyond
a harmony so fully sensed
that voice is mute with instrument

imperative to move the dancer's arms
would free the body from those bonds
wherein an inner rhythm leaps
secret with wonder, flow and cease

the eye's canvas such beauty lights
of shade and color and design
that brush must hesitate to set
a lesser skill on palimpsest

yet kiss is brief and heartbeat slows
while freedom captivates us most
and beauty turns to counterfeit
the images lost in memory's mist


returning miles of space
can you find the precise hour
travel through that day
locate the very moment
ago there

the train goes back and forth
stops at what time stations
monday morning january tenth
autumn ten years
ago then

the boat arrives departs
ticket pier cabin port
pre-war london paris rome
before the depression
remember where

the plane roars lifts the earth
speeds me a century
past sound past light
we know the way back
remember when

and buses taxis subways trams
for how long how far conversations
so much so many who and what
and love and life and yes again
name place date pen

grass flesh

the deep of night is crept upon our talk
and what we had to say the wind will keep
until our tongues can thrust up through the stalk
and stay the light; meanwhile let silence sleep
between us remembering what we were
before our eyes were covered by the dark
lovers who saw beauty in each other
and from the clay drew forth an hour's spark

that hour can not die, though we must lie
with stiffened arms about an earth which turned
about us once to prove how much of sky
there is in love's embrace; our kisses burned
the millioned lightyeared stars that now must roam
the space of all eternity till dust
can rise on flaming wings to plume the dome
with fires kindled by our mortal lust

what triumphs we have known within the mesh
of failure, time can not scrape from our bones;
out of the pregnant dreams of our grass flesh
a fertile spring will issue from the stones
and flower like our songs in crimson mirth;
each hidden sense that death but borrows here
to bring about its own more perfect birth
with quickened breath will help new life appear

the now and here

the sunlit trees along the quiet street
enclose the afternoon on either side
their shadows dark and still the dozing heat
and there is no morning or night to hide

it might be anywhere the now and here
when the heart is simple and forgets the brain
in france on a river or a hill in spain
when life was peaceful and there was no fear

the reminiscent chord the piano strikes
returns us again to the slow learned ease
of oars on a boat and the long road hikes
the faces and voices like melodies

then old folks gladdened the spry basque danses
as student groups mingled to learn quaint ways
and families gathered for shore holidays
with poppies in the sun and vins des provences

in the city of the mind thoughts like these
graze quietly in distant valleys
as though time's gaps lay between a range
of sunlit afternoons that never change

swallows return

o spring thaw out my winter's chill
so cold I might be buried still
beneath the snow

long years I lay as one whose night
strong arms had banished from the light
to mute my song

now wake me from oblivion
bow down and lift me to the sun
like earth to plow

prepare for me some green retreat
enough for summer to complete
its ecstasy

let autumn shake its leaves at me
set laughter whirling from each tree
and I forget

then should my winter come at last
when darkened shadows overcast
the fields of men

I'll gladly say goodbye and go
while memories warm me with their glow
across the stile

for every year my dust shall rise
o'er mud and rust to welcome skies
where swallows soar

reply to critics

tell them who scorn my ways
I lived without their praise
and will until I die

let them be cynical
I have my own faith still
to question and deny

the proud and stiff of neck
the small who grub and peck
both look too low or high

while I but seek to know
the feel of things that grow
and by my living why

No page

step softly

step softly
your feet are on my heart
the sawdust underneath
hurts less than I
even sawdust, dry
and dirtied by our not particular feet

it's something deep inside
that aches
I know not why
unless the pride

for the heart that only guesses
still will bear
the feet that walk upon it
but not the heart that knows
too often it confesses
and breaks

I would remember

I have walked from river's end to end
a slow companion to the light seagulls
that circle overhead

and I have stood still above the bend
that separates the foot from distant hulls
to fill my eye with flying sails wings spread

I have watched them many times from where
the far shore curves around the sun
and holds it there ensnared

while they advanced then dropped midair
instinct with seaward gravitation
and hungry claws prepared

their wings some shimmering things
the wind has caught and suddenly flings
in a rain of gold

I am not old
and yet when night brings me to town
I forget their wings and drown

now and forever

now might I keep you forever thus unchanged
against the eventual day for both of us arranged
when the rude winds shall bring
no promise of another spring
but cold and comfortless satisfaction
the grave's discreet and quiet action
I would not mind the days precisioned
to the clock's unwinding
flesh to flesh binding
would find some way as yet unvisioned
some way to forget
the fever and the sweat
here where lovers have known
the soft of hair and hard of bone
hearing each other moan
a way more conscionably kind
for a night's repose
but time defined
forbids us to dispose
of even one brief moment that has passed
or keep the moment thus forever fast


we knew the words before we knew their meaning
who asked so many whys while still in weaning

how many pitfalls marked with skull and crossbones
to outwit those who lay beneath the moss stones

then set about to verify the answers
seeking in us the cause of others' cancers

so found ourselves new victims of time's catchtraps
and now must moan and curse until the latch snaps

beyond cost

darling don't be lost to me
    the fear was there
    under the sleeve
    lifting the hair

darling don't be lost to me
    it was a prayer
    caught like a leaf
    burning in air

darling you are tossed from me
    the year is bare
    wonder and grief
    drifting to where

darling you are tossed from me
    what here more rare
    thought like a thief
    turning to stare

summer and winter

so many years of many seasons
we saw and found together
snapped grassroots trembling to the spring
plucked berries out of harvesting
caught swirling autumn down from trees
about us drew a sunbright frieze
oh summer was our weather
but winter was in our hearts

how many years of many reasons
convinced us not to part
remembering the search for first green bud
the rain paths rainbowed in the mud
the cheep behind the window ledge
the shutter like a moonshined wedge
oh summer was our weather
but winter was in our hearts

too many years, too many years
we lived and loved together
for oh my dear the winter fears
destroyed the summer weather
for doubts can frost and worries blight
the careful seed, the ripened stacks
and questions when they come by night
leave barren fields behind their tracks


there was sun and moon and stars
and night and day
all taken for granted

then no sun no moon no stars
no night no day
forsaken transplanted

there was sight and sound and touch
and someone there
as always forever

then an empty silence such
as none aware
of hallways to never

item: body found

it was a silent evening I remember
through the river's mist it comes to me
a star pierced the air, white with speed
it leaped across the sky, slipped and fell
I heard its cry, it echoed in the sea
the swift wild cry of the scornful ember

alone I stood there, never had I need
of fellow rebel more, I a rebel
down the dark beach I ran, I stripped, time
was an eyeless reach across immensity
and I plunged deeply, they blamed it on the tide
the night, they had not seen infinity
like a vast unchanging vista wide
before me. if you go too far you'll drown
they said, ah no, they know the sublime
who reach for the falling star and go down

on trial

the day to day commitment to failure
that judgment daily argues against me
condemns me to despair... I am guilty
of more than silence... at times words fail your
wisest men and then intentionally...
but my silence like all my secrecies
has no defense, none conventionally,
my personal idiosyncrasies
no social crimes... when pride is pain and shame
an agony too keen for reason I
had no other weapon, who is to blame?
there was no intent to deceive or lie...
my absence is sufficient evidence,
voluntary exile, not providence


water running over stone
    overrun my heart
water running over stone
    overcome my start

now wear down my sorrow
    wash away my fears
I have mourned tomorrow
    widowed by the years

(water running over stone
hard it is to be alone)

water running over stone
    canyon deep inside
water running over stone
    canyon steep and wide

now let a river flow
    strong and continuous
out of the desert grow
    green bouldered oasis

(flat and dry of emery
plateaus on my memory)

water running over stone
    be the blood within my bone
water running over stone
    take me and make me your own


now that the flame has died which burned in us
burned too intense for living with, beside
and we have cooled to the quieter dust
so comfortably and separately you and I

let us lift to the wind and drift from our pyre
as passionlessly and still as those destined
candles of the mind whose pilgrimage through night
ends with a dawn cold white and all their flames relit

washday in the tropics

the sun tropics down my days
with heat of roof and balcony
drying me out like morning's wash
on mudbaked brick and shrubbery

the clouds are bleached by lye and ash
to make a stiff and faultless sky
and spotless leaves hang limp on trees
without the energy to die

flies buzz... cock calls... the hammock swings
with eye asquint to palmribbed light
while smoke coughs up the desert air
between straw sips of cool and white

where cactus pricks the sunscorched haze
against the rainless afternoon
three zopilotes sit and wait
to pick apart the carcass moon

and still more scrub of soap on stone
with slap and shake and fling of wrist
though I unsmooth each ironed piece
before night creeps along the mist

only this

I return to old complaints
like the earth to its seasons
the church has its saints
and I my reasons

one needs to know trees
their leaves, bark and roots
to perceive what one sees—
the mind has no shoots

only this: the older I grow
the more I feel, not know
the need of believing—
my youth is leaving


for years I watched it grow
in thought and shape a man
though it was smaller then and mild
I was in fact a gentle child

the words it spoke were songs
the air it breathed seemed sweet
its eyes saw more than was to see
the world I loved was meant for me

each day it woke the sun
and played till time had tired
then put the night to sleep in bed
I dreamed the sky was underhead

when it was glad I joyed
when it was sad I grieved
joy and grief were never lonely
I had myself for company

the seasons came and went
and with them went we two
the fallen leaves now memories
of years grown thick as forest trees

till knowledge found us there
and taught us false from true
how much the simple lesson cost
I gained a world not worth the lost

alter ego

always He was there
facing me
where the others could not see
they never believed me

He stood in the shadows
like a tree
posed in sunlight
when the woods are darkly bright
but they saw only
black and white
as I impatiently
cried fools are you blind
they looked at me
their eyes were not unkind

when He spoke
I heard each word
distinctly spoken
the silence broken
was what He said
but they only shook their heads
as I repeatedly
cried fools can't you hear
gently they answered me
your voice is clear

when He wept
they wiped my tears
kept me consoled
for the pain He felt
fools are you so old
you have no fears,
have you no heart
that grief can melt
I insisted through the years
but they would not depart

when He slipped
they caught me in their arms
ripped the garments from my wound
and staunched the flow
fools let me go let me go
I shouted in alarm
as He swooned
and still they did not see
the shadows by the tree
they never believed me

then He was dying
and I knew
dying too
that they would bury me there
beside the tree
where no one else could see
but the fools were crying
because I was lying so quietly
watching the shadows
and waiting

this much I know about time

there is safety
only in the heart
guard it well
my love

where is beauty
lonely in the mart
hard to sell
my dove

fame is rider
pawing wind and cloud
fool to reach
so far

blame is spider
drawing in the crowd
cruel of speech
they are

joys are token
mainly for regret
high the score
I played

toys are broken
plainly to forget
buy no more
I said

breath is fearless
bolder than the mind
few will sight
my spire

death is cheerless
colder than the wind
who will light
my fire

in the wake of sleep

storm in the brain whips the dull season high
while dunes of repetition pile against the night
sandscarred to flight... hurriedly the shore
frightened by tide sliding out from cat's paw
scurries behind land's door, turns key in lock
and dims the light... now wind and rain can rock
the mind to a wild ship's bow, ride down a mile
climb up a wall to mountain height of sky...

dreams crash each side, tear anchor loose from sleep
and madly race the lightning out to sea...
everything changes: hands feet eyes the face
of storm, all composition of the gray
sameness, walls razed, roofs blown, the no of drought
flooded out... the revenging dog barks loud
across the fog and we wake to the nightmare
violence of day, salt in mouth, sand in hair

cold wakening

for thirty years I lived a dream
until I woke up with a scream
and saw that all the things I'd dreamt
had vanished in the dawn's contempt

it was not I within the glass
it was my mother's face alas
a face so changed from mine I'd known
I thought the years had turned to stone

and where were all my innocence
my glad beliefs and magic pence
that I had saved to travel through
a timeless world where dreams come true?

not anything inside my hand
no moment's evidence of sand
just grayish pulp to make me damn
the heartless proof I think, I am?

the dream is gone and still as ice
that glaciers down some mountain splice
and I am carried underneath
with stones to cling to by my teeth

weather forecast

always before the final terror
a luscious peace
not yet the signal bell
not yet the swift alarm
the sleeper has another hour
the worker has a holiday
still eases the dawn forward
still comes the morning toward
open the cities' piers
open frontiers
an early spring
being everything
the last kiss like the first
the best without the worst

always after the initial fear
a new release
not yet the sharp compel
not yet the threatened harm
the body has a lazy power
the brain has an agile way
so warm the fireside within
so rich the harvest every bin
secure the outer walls
secure the stalls
a deep serenity
without enmity
the first signs like the last
the future in the past

measured interval

the morning speeds to a full stop
lands in the park
and lights a cigarette—
still fifteen minutes to burn
and then noon

the train comes along, drops
through the darkness
and forgets—
till five o'clock returns
and the news

night wakes with a gong
rings bells in the brain
and runs off shouting—
sleep dresses itself
and wakes, shaking

skies ricochet downward, prong
ciliate streaks of rain
with gun shells routing—
a mad head on a shelf
laughs, breaking

now the moon blankets over the dead
the warmth their lover bodies were denied

they lie on alien bed
who failed to live
who tried, whose eyes are wide
to heaven knows what stars
what glories fugitive

o tell me mars
to every action
is there an equal
and opposite reaction

black sun

the night is white, ah strange
the world I knew grown changed
for sun is black with days
I can not see amazed

all has reversed, gone void
each thought a masked deploy
confusing sense: heat cold
more less, body and soul

only the light of dreams
in which I stand blasphemed
lost blind, a sack of straw
facing windy mouths abhorred
land is accursed, sea slimed
with foulest human crimes
at what expense to hide
the fratricidal eye

the ghosts of years file past
like candles in a glass
and I a sound unheard
to stop the murderer

dawn chanticleers no peace
there is no west no east
space closes round the speck
man claims as architect

log for a voyage

we have taken to words on page
    without speech
we have taken to birds in cage
    within reach

forsaken the meaning of lips
forsaken the free wing that dips

we have shaken the fruitful tree
    of belief
we have shaken the brutal sea
    for relief

mistaken the evils of sin
mistaken the wheels that spin

then who of us shall slake the salt wound
    on the tongue
who shall wake the nightingales marooned
    here among

o wander the world for the garden that lies
on the floor of atlantis or roof of the skies

from its seed breed a new race of life loving men
from its reed and papyrus make music again

notes for the future

light destroyed by minds
only the stars

might destroyed by hands
only the stones

no other language but signs
no other knowledge but clans

time reduced by fear
only the sun

space reduced by force
only the hunt

each one yoked from head to knee
each one racked by tooth and claw

ears condemned to hope
only the drum

eyes condemned to ape
only the dream

this book is
a signed limited edition
designed by the author
set in cheltonian type
printed on biblios paper
published and distributed by
editorial jus mejia number 19
mexico city


Elizabeth Bartlett (1911-1994) was an American poet and writer noted for her lyrical and symbolic poetry, creation of the new twelve-tone form of poetry, founder of the international non-profit organization Literary Olympics, Inc., and known as an author of fiction, essays, reviews, translations, and as an editor. She is not to be confused with the British poet (1924-2008) of the same name. For more detailed information about her life, work, and critical commendations, see the Wikipedia article .

Bartlett's most notable achievements include:

• Creation of a new form of poetry, "the twelve-tone poem," adapting Arnold Schonberg's musical system to the verbal, accented sounds of language. Called "the Emily Dickinson of the 20th Century," her concise lyrics have been praised by poets, musicians, and composers alike.

• Publication of 16 books of poetry, a group of edited anthologies, and more than 1,000 poems, short stories, and essays published, for example, in Harper's, Virginia Quarterly, New York Times, North American Review, Saturday Review, Prairie Schooner, and in numerous international collections.

• Recipient of many fellowships, grants and awards, including NEA, PEN Syndicate, fellowships at the Huntington Hartford Foundation, Montalvo, Yaddo, MacDowell, Dorland Mt. Colony and Ragdale, travel grants, and honors for introducing literature as part of the Olympics.

• Founder of the Literary Olympics, to restore literature, specifically poetry, as a vital part of the Olympics as it once had been in ancient Greece.

Bartlett's poetry came to the attention of leading poets, writers, and critics as diverse as Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Mark Van Doren, Conrad Aiken, Allen Tate, Alfred Kreymborg, Robert Hillyer, Louis Untermeyer, Rolfe Humphries, John Ciardi, Richard Eberhart, Richard Wilbur, Maxine Kumin, Robert M. Hutchins, Kenneth Rexroth, William Stafford, and others. Over the years, Bartlett maintained an active and extensive correspondence with eminent poets, writers, and literary critics; evident throughout this collected literary correspondence are strong statements attesting to the importance of her work.

About her first book of poetry, Poems of Yes and No, Marianne Moore wrote: "I surely find good in the Poems of Yes and No.... The clearness of the book is certainly beautiful." Wallace Stevens was impressed by Poems of Yes and No and wrote: "Your poems give one a sense of intelligence and sensibility." Alfred Kreymborg was enthusiastic about the book: "You have found a style of your own and developed it. I say yes to your Poems of Yes and No. This is a distinguished volume as a whole. I wish you well with this warm book. Any poet might envy the courage and artistry of what you say, or rather sing, there." Further commendation came from Robert Hillyer, who wrote: "Your poems are moving and unusual.... A distinguished achievement!"

Her husband, Paul Alexander Bartlett (1909-1990) was an American writer, artist, and poet. He made a large-scale study of more than 350 Mexican haciendas, published novels, short stories, and poetry, and worked as a fine artist in a variety of media. For more detailed information about his life and work, see the Wikipedia article .

Elizabeth Bartlett's son, Steven James Bartlett (1945- ), is a psychologist and philosopher who has published many books and articles in the fields of philosophy and psychology. For more detailed information about his life and work, see the Wikipedia article .

End of Project Gutenberg's poems of yes and no, by Bartlett, Elizabeth


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