17 August 2019

Evelyn Graham Frost in Varennes Vauzelles, Nièvre (58)

This memorial commemorates the death of the American aviator (and poet, it is stated) Evelyn Graham Frost, who was flying with the English pilot Ruddle. The plane crashed here on 5 January 1934. The plane left Orly on that day, flew through mist, and then hit a high-tension cable. Frost, who lived in France and had held her pilot's licence for a year, was burned to death. Her companion escaped with slight injuries. Poet? Well, the only reference to Frost's poetry I can find is a poem called 'Memory' which was published in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, in July 1932. This is it in full:

'Now leaning through the cyclamens of sleep,
Myself now one with each faint-scented stem,
I dreamt I drank the color of your voice;

And those high instants wherein each may keep
His trysts with sounds beyond the verge of noise
Were trapped within that music's interim.

Your hair streamed one with the straight growth of light,
Your fabulous long hands enclosed my sky,
My whole world arched beneath your rare bright palms;

While like soft petals, than all skies more bright,
Your fingers blurred to nearness, and your arms
Parted the cyclamens and crept to me.

It seemed there was no world beyond your mouth,
No space-time but the one that here compressed
Meaning and truth to your strong lips; it seemed

That neither east no west nor north nor south
Had substance now, nor all the heavens dreamed
In all the values life makes manifest.

Then slowly, from that dream's apocalypse,
Moved the pale brightness of your face; I knew
Stirless and exquisite, each plane withdrawn.

The flowers that were your hands moved to eclipse
In other skies than mine; each tone moved on,
Each echo muted; and then slumber grew;

And on the edge of sleep's giant interim
Waking, I wept beneath each frail pink stem.'

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