7:28 a.m. — San Antonio
listening to the neighbour’s lawn mower
Hello everyone. I can’t believe August starts in a couple of days. The downside of summer is upon us. Today, I want us to explore Blazons. It’s an old form (13th c.), originally used to detail the various parts of a woman’s body; a sort of catalogue of her physical attributes. The term is taken from the official, written description of the coat of arms, called the ‘blazon of arms,’ a system to denote colours, placement, and styling by using an economy of words.
What does this mean for us? Imagery like we’ve never done imagery! Let me show you a blazon by Andre Breton:
My wife whose hair is a brush fire
Whose thoughts are summer lightning
Whose waist is an hourglass
Whose waist is the waist of an otter caught in the teeth of a tiger
Whose mouth is a bright cockade with the fragrance of a star of the first magnitude
Whose teeth leave prints like the tracks of white mice over snow
Whose tongue is made out of amber and polished glass
Whose tongue is a stabbed wafer
The tongue of a doll with eyes that open and shut
Whose tongue is an incredible stone
My wife whose eyelashes are strokes in the handwriting of a child
Whose eyebrows are nests of swallows
My wife whose temples are the slate of greenhouse roofs
With steam on the windows
My wife whose shoulders are champagne
Are fountains that curl from the heads of dolphins over the ice
My wife whose wrists are matches
Whose fingers are raffles holding the ace of hearts
Whose fingers are fresh cut hay
The speaker has only reached her fingers! For the rest, if you are curious, go here. The blazon needn’t be positive and can be tongue in cheek. Note Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, where he writes a short blazon listing attributes back handedly [such a rebel, that man].
I see no reason a blazon cannot be written about objects, pets, animals that aren’t pets, pretty much anything that has attributes. The attributes don’t necessarily have to be physical, though those are probably easier to work with. So. Think of someone, or something, List the qualities/aspects of your chosen subject.
To help create images of the more surrealistic kind (should you wish to emulate Breton), consider how each aspect you list affects you sensorily — taste, touch, smell, sight, sound. Let your emotions go.
I look forward to your poems. Blazons fascinate me (I have no idea why). I shall see you again, next Tuesday, for a wintery day.
Happy writing, all.