Ars Poetica

From the perfumery of dreams,
from the balsam and sandalwood of my joys
and afflictions, by alembic and press,
let me distill my poetry.

The aromatics of joy:
lily, jasmine, violet and rose,
blossoms of citrus, mimosa, narcissus,
osmanthus, unopened buds of clove.

Sadness is the maceration of wood:
distillations of sandalwood and birch,
rosewood, agarwood, cedar,
juniper and pine.

Fragrant arbor, acceptance, leaves and twigs:
lavender, rosemary, violets and sage,
patchouli, tomato leaf,
hay grass and citrus.

Abhorrence’s scent is subterranean:
bulbs and roots, rhizomes of iris and ginger,
perennial grasses,
citronella, palmarosa.

From this the incense of fear:
the resinous secretion of fossil conifers,
pine and fir, amber, copal, balsam,
frankincense and myrrh.

Anger is wrung from gnarled bark:
oils of cascarilla and cinnamon,
the alchemy of safrole
and fragrant helional.

Anticipation, skimmed from peel and rind:
oranges and limes,
grapefruit, cherry, lemon sharp,
juniper berry.

Surprise scatters in fragrant seeds:
coriander and caraway,
mace, nutmeg and cardamom,
cocoa and anise.

Breathe in thus my soul with these verses,
distilled from hope and despair,
from love and remorse,
the subtle perfumery of dreams.


  1. Anonymous12:57:00 PM

    This is an example of a poem where I just wish that I could have everything to step in and smell it all at once!

    The poem smells (quite literally, of course)! :D


  2. You have read Wallace Stevens, I can tell. :)

  3. Short link:

  4. Just beautiful...very happy I took the time to read this. And now off to tranquil slumber.

    Thank you,

    -Victoria D.

  5. Anonymous2:11:00 AM

    An olfactory smorgasbord ... !_!

    @HumanRights ~ #Poet_R_U #Poets_For_Human_Rights


  6. Poetry as scent... i do understand... I would look at some of the repetitions. For instance, juniper as sadness and anticipation. But quite wonderful overall! Luscious, in fact.

  7. The apparent repetitions aren't oversights, actually. A single plant may offer different sources for fragrances - bark, wood, fruit, seeds, leaves, sap, roots, and so on - each producing a very unique scent.

  8. Steph Brown11:36:00 PM

    I once worked behind a fragrance counter at a department store so when I saw your title on fb I had to come read this. I like it.
    Great job of taking bits of "lore" and making it your own. Maybe giving it your touch and sharing it is a better way to say that.

  9. While vacationing in Virginia one year I came upon a little market in the middle of Amish country. Along the walls were wooden shelves stacked with fruit and vegetables from the family's gardens/orchard. Down one of the aisles the shelves held varied spices, dried fruit and flower petals.

    Thank you for the lovely poem which kindled this olfactorius memory.


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