if i believe

if i believe – e.e. cummings

if i believe
in death be sure
of this
it is

because you have loved me,
moon and sunset
stars and flowers
gold crescendo and silver muting

of seatides
i trusted not,

one night

when in my fingers

drooped your shining body
when my heart
sang between your perfect

darkness and beauty of stars
was on my mouth petals danced
against my eyes
and down

the singing reaches of
my soul
the green-

greeting pale-
departing irrevocable
i knew thee death.

and when

i have offered up each fragrant
night,when all my days
shall have before a certain

face become

from the ashes

thou wilt rise and thou
wilt come to her and brush

the mischief from her eyes and fold
mouth the new
flower with

thy unimaginable
wings,where dwells the breath
of all persisting stars

Marianne Stokes, Death of Tristram, 1902:

6 thoughts on “if i believe

  1. Cool, Claudia, cool(with 3 or 4 different meanings of cool). On this subject I rather like, and lean toward, Swinburne’s conceit;

    From too much love of living,
    From hope and fear set free,
    We thank with brief thanksgiving
    Whatever gods may be
    That no life lives for ever;      
    That dead men rise up never;
    That even the weariest river
    Winds somewhere safe to sea.

  2. Bill MacDonald says:

    We had to memorize and recite [hist whist] when I was in the 9th grade — even forced memorization couldn’t kill the poem for me. I’m glad to see his work on your blog.

    Here’s a question — what must it be like to be the partner of a publicly creative person like e.e. cummings? You see a poem like this and you think, “That’s what he’s thinking? It must have been me, right? So at some point he was thinking this stuff, and I had no idea. I guess I’ll never really know — unless I read about it. Oh well, at least now I know that he really does think that my breasts are perfect. I’ve got it in writing.”

    I’d make a truly lousy muse 🙂

    • artmodel says:


      I would have those kinds of thoughts for sure! It’s interesting because an art model knows that a work is about her. It’s plain for everyone to see. The written word – in poetry or novels, etc – can be cryptic and uncertain. One can only infer. Of course, I would secretly hope that a “perfect breasts” reference is about me! (unlikely)

      Glad you enjoyed the e.e. cummings. Marvelous poet.


  3. Rob says:

    Words or images, words or brush strokes, words or color, write or paint?; recurring questions …I guess I could try to do both and the incentive blooms when I read something like your post. Beautiful, sensuous, provocative, truthful. Thanks.

    • artmodel says:


      Thank YOU for such thoughtful comments. Gosh, if my little blog post spurs even a bit of inspiration for a creative soul like you, then I am a happy girl 🙂


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