Star the eleventh

I’m creating a virtual star chart, to record my progress in Dry July. The star for making it through Sunday 11 July without touching the demon drink is “Star Change” by Robin Hyde.

Star Change

I know thee, all thou art –
A dream has told me.
What matter, wild-bird heart,
If day’s net cannot hold thee?
Go marry where you will,
Ebon or golden head,
Come vespers, and he still
By stars is cuckolded.

I don’t know exactly when the poem was written, or first published. As far as I can tell, it was written sometime between 1925 and 1937, and published long after Hyde’s tragic early death. I only read it for the first time yesterday, when the lovely HarvestBird sent a copy of it to me, and suggested that I might like it for my star chart. I’m still thinking about the poem, and trying out meanings, and wondering about where it came from for Hyde. I am not confident about understanding poetry, so I won’t try my first thoughts on you: give me a few weeks, and I may have something sensible to say about it. Or not.

For those of you who don’t know HarvestBird, she writes beautiful reflective prose and poetry at harvestbird.com. Most recently, she has been writing about the birth of her daughter, and all the transitions and changes in her life brought about by the little one. Her doctoral thesis was about Robin Hyde’s poetry.

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One comment on “Star the eleventh

  1. harvestbird says:

    I’m looking forward to each of these updates! I first came across this poem in the archives at Auckland University Library — it has since been published in a Selected Poems volume in 2003. It is quite unusual among RH’s poems of her middle period (around 1933-7; she wrote this in mid-1936 when she was 30) in that it is short but not terribly epigrammatic, and that the addressee is not necessarily any particularly person. The author may even be speaking to herself.

    I liked it at the time for its sense of epiphany or magic (the first two lines) which are in contrast to a lot of the thinking-through of all kinds of other social and political ideas that Hyde was doing at the time. It has in common with some of her other contemporary poems the idea of marrying or being the lover of the natural world, which seemed to appeal to her (she was keeping a small flower garden at her residence — the Lodge of the Auckland Mental Hospital — at this time).

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