My Darling Turns to Poetry at Night – Anthony Lawrence – Analysis

My Darling Turns to Poetry at Night

My darling turns to poetry at night.
What began as flirtation, an aside
Between abstract expression and first light

Now finds form as a silent, startled flight
Of commas on her face — a breath, a word …
My darling turns to poetry at night.

When rain inspires the night birds to create
Rhyme and formal verse, stanzas can be made
Between abstract expression and first light.

Her heartbeat is a metaphor, a late
Bloom of red flowers that refuse to fade.
My darling turns to poetry at night.

I watch her turn. I do not sleep. I wait
For symbols, for a sign that fear has died
Between abstract expression and first light.

Her dreams have night vision, and in her sight
Our bodies leave ghost prints on the bed.
My darling turns to poetry at night
Between abstract expression and first light.

Anthony Lawrence (1957 –

This is a nineteen-line villanelle; five three-line stanzas and ending with a four-line.

The first and third lines of the first stanza appear repeatedly throughout the villanelle structure. They form the rhyming couplet in the last stanza. These are the most important lines and once defined eight lines have been created. Much thought must be given in creating these lines.

My darling turns to poetry at night
Between abstract expression and first light.

Looking at the above lines and what they say to me. The poet’s sleeping partner is pure poetry as he/she changes in facial expression. It is clever to use the double meaning of turns.

The other lines cleverly elaborate on this theme with poetry in mind. For example –

Her heartbeat is a metaphor, a late
Bloom of red flowers that refuse to fade.

We now know that a ‘she’ is involved and not a ‘he’. There is an underlying sense of beauty. And I do like the way commas appear as separation in the silent breathing of words by the sleeping person.

The facial expression of a person varies throughout the journey of the night. What you can read from viewing the continual changes is another matter. This poem is all about facial expression translation to poetic thoughts. I think there is an incredible beauty in the sleeping face of someone in peace with the world whether adult of child. In this poem it appears that fear must be eliminated before this can occur. And it is very thoughtful for partner to wait for this to be seen visually. Perhaps using this time to compose poetic words.

I watch her turn. I do not sleep. I wait
For symbols, for a sign that fear has died

The end rhyming words must flow through the villanelle too, so it is not an easy structure to adhere to. In this case – night, flight, sight, light

And for those not familiar with the villanelle this is a link to that well-know Dylan Thomas poem as another example, together with more detail on the villanelle.

Anthony Lawrence is a contemporary Australian poet and novelist.