Marjorie Allen Seiffert

A Japanese Vase Wrought in Metals (1919)

Five harsh black birds in shining bronze come crying
Into a silver sky.
Piercing and jubilant is the shape of their flying;
Their beaks are pointed with delight,
Curved sharply with desire.
The passionate direction of their flight,
Clear and high,
Stretches their bodies taut like humming wire.
The cold wind blows into angry patterns the jet-bright
Feathers of their wings;
Their claws curl loosely, safely, about nothingness—
They clasp no things.
Direction and desire they possess,
By which in sharp, unswerving flight they hold
Across an iron sea to the golden beach
Whereon lies carrion, their feast: a shore of gold
That birds wrought on a vase can never reach.



Marjorie Allen Seiffert (1885-1970) was involved in the Spectra hoax (see the Bibliography, BG6) with Arthur Davison Ficke and Witter Bynner. The special issue of Others (v. 3, no. 5, 1917) devoted to ‘the Spectric School’ contained poems by Anne Knish (Ficke), Emanuel Morgan (Bynner), and Elijah Hay (Seiffert), and a book by Elijah Hay, A Woman of Thirty, appeared in 1919. Collections published under Seiffert’s own name include Ballads of the Singing Bowl (1927), The King with Three Faces and Other Poems (1929), and The Name of Life (1938). ‘A Japanese Vase Wrought in Metals’ appeared in Poetry 15 (1919), p. 30.

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