Shall the water not remember Ember- Fred Chappell (b. 1936)
my hand’s slow gesture, tracing above of
its mirror my half-imaginary airy
portrait? My only belonging longing;
is my beauty, which I take ache
away and then return, as love of
teasing playfully the one being unbeing.
whose gratitude I treasure Is your
moves me. I live apart heart
from myself, yet cannot not
live apart. In the water’s tone, stone?
that brilliant silence, a flower Hour,
whispers my name with such slight light:
moment, it seems filament of air, fare
the world becomes cloudswell. well.
Fred Chappell's beautiful poem, Narcissus and Echo, is a combination of two poems into a third. Based on the Greek mythology surrounding Narcissus, a vain young man who falls in love with his reflection, and the beautiful nymph Echo, who lives under the curse of only being able to repeat the words of others.
I've always found the story a striking one. There is something very sad about not being able to express what you as an individual think. Chappell's Echo, however, is capable of self-expression; even though she does only repeat the sounds that leave Narcissus' mouth, she forms her own ideas, her own expressions. She speaks.
If you want to read more about the Greek myth behind Chappell's poem, there is a brief summary at this website: http://thanasis.com/echo.htm