Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Narcissus (Vanity/Narcissism)

Range of Narcissus cultivars
“The main condition for the achievement of love is the overcoming of one's narcissism. ” Erich FrommThe Art of Loving 
Vanity is as ill at ease under indifference as tenderness is under a love which it cannot return.  George Eliot 
“. . . . 'But... was Narcissus beautiful?' the lake asked. . . .   
'I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.'”  Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist
File:Dante Gabriel Rossetti - "Persephone".jpg

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - "Persephone".jpg

Midweek Motif ~
Narcissus (Vanity / Narcissisum)
The narcissus is one of December's birth flowers.  According to Greek myth, it is the flower that grew when the vain young man Narcissus drowned in the lake in which he admired his own reflection.  There's more to the story--Echo, goddesses, love,  and, related to it is the story of Persephone and Demeter, a pomegranatedeath, winter and summer.  Picking a narcissus flower separated Persephone from her peers, and Hades kidnapped her.  Her story associates her with the life cycle of plants.  

Do any of these stories have meaning to you? 
If not, hold with the beautiful flower itself.

Your Challenge: Write a new poem in response to the themes of one of the images included in this prompt.  (You may also provide images of your own that relate to narcissus and/or vanity).  


Persephone, Falling
One narcissus among the ordinary beautiful
flowers, one unlike all the others!  She pulled,
stooped to pull harder—
when, sprung out of the earth
on his glittering terrible
carriage, he claimed his due.
It is finished.  No one heard her.
No one!  She had strayed from the herd.

(Remember: go straight to school.
This is important, stop fooling around!
Don’t answer to strangers.  Stick
with your playmates.  Keep your eyes down.)
This is how easily the pit
opens.  This is how one foot sinks into the ground.
(In Mother Love by Rita Dove. © 1995, W.W. Norton & Company.  Used with permission.)

Echo And Narcissus, John William Waterhouse (1903)

Encircled by her arms as by a shell,
she hears her being murmur,
while forever he endures
the outrage of his too pure image...

Wistfully following their example,
nature re-enters herself;
contemplating its own sap, the flower
becomes too soft, and the boulder hardens...

It's the return of all desire that enters
toward all life embracing itself from afar...
Where does it fall? Under the dwindling
surface, does it hope to renew a center? 
Image result for Sylvia Plath mirror
Sylvia Plath | Source
by Sylvia Plath I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see I swallow immediately Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike. I am not cruel, only truthful- The eye of the little god, four cornered. Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall. It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers. Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me, Searching my reaches for what she really is. Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon. I see her back, and reflect it faithfully. She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands. I am important to her. She comes and goes. Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness. In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
Jan Vermeulen Vanitas Still Life.jpg
Ecclesiastes 1:2, Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity.  Still Life by Jan Vermeulen (1653)

My song has put off her adornments.
She has no pride of dress and decoration. 
Ornaments would mar our union;
they would come between thee and me; 
their jingling would drown thy whispers.
My poet’s vanity dies in shame before thy sight. 
O master poet, I have sat down at thy feet. 
Only let me make my life simple and straight, 
like a flute of reed for thee to fill with music.

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and
visit others in the spirit of the community— 
(Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be Celebration. )


  1. likr a terrible fish indeed. The four cornered eye of a god. GottA love plath.

    Our love of self can def get in the way of love.

    1. Yes. In a way, it gets in the way of true love of self.

  2. Haha! I'm on my way to read poetry!

    This was a most difficult prompt for me, out of my theme zone. I am amazed to still have some fondness for my poem this morning.

  3. A most wonderful prompt Susan. And thank you for letting us hold with the beautiful flower itself. Persephone, Falling & Mirror are two great selections.

    1. Thank you, Sumana. Those two poems wrench me.

  4. Loved the prompt, Susan💞 and couldn't resist having fun with echo verse. *wink wink*💞

  5. Good Wednesday: a prompt vast in its beauty and scope

    much love...

    1. Thank you, Gillena. Vast is a good description for the range of ideas here!

  6. Great prompt, Susan!Mindfulness in all areas of our lives is really essential in this day and age especially...:)

    1. Thank you. Mindfulness is absolutely necessary. I don't know anyone who can be there all the time, though.

  7. Loved the Plath, especially, Susan. Thanks for the Wednesday prompting. :)

  8. Ha, the sun is shining and I am trying very hard to stay at my desk this morning. Thanks for the prompt, Susan.

  9. Thank you for this excellent prompt. BTW if there is more than one poem posted, I only read the first one.

    1. That works. I'll remove one of Rommy's when I get around to it. They both lead to the same place.

    2. Eek! Sorry about that. My computer must have hiccuped.

  10. Excellent prompt. I have a thing for Greek Mythology!

  11. Good Evening, Poets! Thank you for he compelling prompt, Susan! Would you please delete Mister Lately Linky #23. I don’t know how I managed to add that erroneous post, but I did. Thanks!


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