The Age of Gold

by P.K. Page



And the first age was Gold.
Without laws, without law’s enforcers.
This age understood and obeyed
What had created it.
– “Creation,” Ted Hughes

What was, before the world
no one can imagine
and then the Creator created
winds and skies and seas.
Earth, with its fruits and trees,
before the world was old,
blossomed in sweet profusion.
Fish and flesh and fowl
were, magically, manifold.
And the first age was Gold.

And man appeared, and woman
innocent, full of wonder.
Eden, one myth called it,
Paradise, another.
Whatever the name, it was
flawless, an age of glory,
golden, sun-filled, honeyed,
lacking both crime and cunning.
It was a consummate order –
Without laws, without law’s enforcers.

Day followed night, the sky
cloudless, the air sweet-scented.
Night followed day, the stars
bright – Orion striding,
Cygnus, the Southern Cross,
the Lesser Water Snake.
All in their proper places
linked to the earth and shining –
a cosmological guide
this age understood and obeyed

Minerals, plants and all
animals and humans
behaved according to
their original design.
Birds in their flight and flowers,
trees multifoliate,
salt in the mine, and water –
each honoured and celebrated
harmonized with and trusted
what had created it.

Notes on the Poem

In Coal and Roses, wielding the rigour of the early Renaissance glosa form, P.K. Page performs the poetic version of sampling. A practice most associated with music, sampling involves an artist taking a segment of the recording of a musical and/or lyrical sequence and interspersing, blending or otherwise incorporating that segment (usually the work of another artist) as part of a different song or piece. Page's glosas take an approach not unlike musique concrète artists in the 1940s, jazz fusion artists of the 1960s and 70s and, more recently, the likes of Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer, Dr Dre, Kanye West and more. Page keeps company with John Ashbery, Ted Hughes, Wallace Stevens, Anna Akhmatova and other poetry greats as her initial creative sparks. "The Age of Gold" follows the same glosa "rules" as all of the poems in Coal and Roses. A glosa opens with a four-line sequence or quatrain from the work of another poet. From there, the poet composes four ten-line stanzas where the tenth line of each stanza is a line from the other poet's passage, used in consecutive order. The poet must also make the sixth and ninth lines of each stanza rhyme with the borrowed tenth from the other poet. (Page did that most successfully in the first stanza here, with "old", "manifold" and "Gold.") Not only did Page honour the intricate requirements of a poetic form that dates back to the 14th century, but she brought new life to it while honouring the work of poets who went before her. As her publisher, The Porcupine's Quill, explains "The use of the glosa form serves to emphasize both the continuity and the evolution of life, and of art." In what was to be her final work, this reader believes Page achieved that continuity with elegance, resourcefulness, grace ... and with the freshness and ingenuity of Jay-Z or Lady GaGa, for that matter.

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