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The Orchard

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  276 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Richly allusive, the poems in Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s The Orchard evoke elements of myth in distinctive aural and rhythmic patterns. Her poetic strength lies in her ability to cast poems as modern myths and allegories. Propelled by patterned repetitions and lush cadences, the poems move the reader through a landscape where waking and dream consciousness fuse.

Paperback, 88 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by BOA Editions Ltd.
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Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I loved The Orchard. I don't think I was quite as awed by it as I was by Song, but I did love it. Kelly's poetry was, as always, fluid and musical and lovely. This collection also had a number of poems that were astonishing encounters with the sacred (although not, I think, with the religious, but rather with the sacred in the mundane) and with the magical and the impossible.
While I liked every poem, I found "The South Gate", "Windfall", "Pale Rider", "The Orchard", "The Dance", "The Rain's Consort", a
Nov 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Wow and wow again. How have I wated this long to come to Kelly's work? What I love most, I think, is how she makes vast music from simple things. She lives in a simple, domestic (although outdoor domestic) world. And yet. How does she manage to move into dream, myth, fear without seeming overwrought? There’s a quiet description that seems very characteristic and that aids in this, I think, and that grounds the work.

Deer, orchards, lying on the ground, birds... and the fears that come
C. Varn
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brigit Pegeen Kelly's allusive, mythic, and rhythmic poetry shines here. Her lush writing was out of step with both the formalism and the free verse popular in the late 90s, and very distant from the more experimental and hybrid poetics popular right now. Pegeen Kelly is also rich in the natural imaginary which grounds and expands mythic and dream imaginary in some sensual space. Domestic and richly mythic, formal but not stated. Traditional but not closed to the world. Great work.
Mar 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: indispensable
Helen McClory
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lush and eerie poems full of imagery like multiple-headed deer staring in the groves that might be figments from sleep deprivation or something like messengers from other worlds, giant yellow carp abandoned in ponds in the woods, statuary missing limbs that birds swing through, very white dogs biting into carcasses, gardens all overgrown and humid and green and black, flowers all sexy and rotting, a snake carried by a twin swarm of bees.

Poems to live inside, shivering and in awe.
Nov 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've read this book a few times before this. And always, I read that first poem, and I made it the location for every subsequent poem. I suppose it should be. This garden, these statues, are a locale. However, none of the poems have that life, and movement that "Black Swan" does. Granted, the poem is possibly one of my favorite poems, period. But on this read, I noticed that many of the images are dense, but not dynamic. They don't seem to live through the page, they suffice for well wrought obj ...more
Nov 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This book is a little stiff for my personal taste, like the poems act as containers for a desire far surpassing the limits of the words. I suppose that's part of the charm, though, but to me it's over-crafted in parts. I love "The Garden of the Trumpet Tree". Kelly lets loose a bit here with amazing results.
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
A dreamy still life / the imagined lives of statues in a gothic garden.

Interesting use of ellipses as a kind of transition.

"Black Swan"
"The Garden of the Trumpet Tree"
"The Foreskin"
Lindy Loo
Oct 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Brigit Pegeen Kelly is amazing. If you've never read any of her stuff, you should definitely check this out. Especially since we just waltzed into fall, and many of the poems are so sensually about nature and transition.
Jul 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-i-hate
I only keep this book because it is the fastest way for me to determine if someone I've just met is my friend or my enemy.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Nearly every poem in this volume has the words garden, gardens, field, fields, woods, or orchard in its body or title. And even those that don’t are still clearly not poems of house, office, or town and city. Kelly’s poems teem with trees, plants, flowers, animals, ponds, bogs, and lakes, even if in a confined seeming space or one with a mystical or dreamlike aura about it. If this is a garden it is Eden after the fall, not of Man but God.

In the volume’s second poem, “Blessed Is the Field” Kell
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
These poems are all concerned with overgrown, wild spaces, teeming with flowers and vines and weeds and half-glimpsed fauna, sweet with rot and decay. The lines are likewise swarming with untamed metaphors.

I've read many of Kelly's poems before, but this is my first experience reading one of her books straight through. Now I need to read them all. This is definitely one of my favorite books ever. A classic.
Gerry LaFemina
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The Orchard, with its use of repeating images, repeated language throughout its poems, presents as much as a book-length meditation as it does a book of individual poems. Often gruesome, dreamy, and pastoral, these poems don't flinch from the gruesomeness of the world or the art we make to try to understand it; instead they wrestle with it, using mesmerizing language as a balm.
Grape Blazeit
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mythological fantasy acid trip. 8/10 would trip again.
Jun 19, 2007 added it

The bees came out of the junipers, two small swarms
The size of melons; and golden, too, like melons,
They hung next to each other, at the height of a deer’s breast,
Above the wet black compost. And because
The light was very bright it was hard to see them,
And harder still to see what hung between them.
A snake hung between them. The bees held up a snake,
Lifting each side of his narrow neck, just below
The pointed head, and in this way,
Apr 26, 2012 rated it liked it
It's not a fault of the book, but the prose poems are really not my thing, and the themes seem to be quite repetitive throughout.
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It has an interesting and new style of poetry.
Aug 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Maybe 3.5.
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“Plants Fed On by Fawns"

All the flowers: the pleated leaves of the hellebore;
And the false blossom of the calla, a leaf like a petal—
The white flesh of a woman bathing— a leaf over-
Shadowing the small flowers hidden in the spadix;
And fly poison, tender little flower, whose cursed root
Pounded into a fine white powder will destroy flies.
But why kill flies? They do not trouble me. They
Are like the fruit the birds feed on. They are like
The wind in the trees, or the sap that threads all things,
The blue blood moving through branch and vine,
Through the wings of dead things and living things....
If I lift my hand? If I write to you? The letters
Can be stored in a box. Can they constitute the shape
Of a love? Can the paper be ground? Can the box
Be altar and garden plot and bed? Can there rise
From the bed the form of a two-headed creature,
A figure that looks both forward and back, keeping
Watch always, one head sleeping while the other wakes,
The bird head sleeping while the lion head wakes,
And then the changing of the guard?.... No,
The flies do not trouble me. They are like the stars
At night. Common and beautiful. They are like
My thoughts. I stood at midnight in the orchard.
There were so many stars, and yet the stars,
The very blackness of the night, though perfectly
Cold and clear, seemed to me to be insubstantial,
The whole veil of things seemed less substantial
Than the thing that moved in the dark behind me,
An unseen bird or beast, something shifting in its sleep,
Half-singing and then forgetting it was singing:
Be thou always ravished by love, starlight running
Down and pulling back the veil of the heart,
And then the water that does not exist opening up
Before one, dark as wine, and the unveiled figure
Of the self stepping unclothed, sweetly stripped
Of its leaf, into starlight and the shadow of night,
The cold water warm around the narrow ankles,
The body at its most weightless, a thing so durable
It will— like the carved stone figures holding up
The temple roof— stand and remember its gods
Long after those gods have been forsaken.”

Wind buffs the waterstained stone cupids and shakes
Old rain from the pines’ low branches, small change
Spilling over the graves the years have smashed
With a hammer— forget this, forget that, leave no
Stone unturned. The grass grows high, sweet-smelling,
Many-footed, ever-running. No one tends it. No
One comes....And where am I now?.... Is this a beginning,
A middle, or an end?.... Before I knew you I stood
middle, or an end?.... Before I knew you I stood
In this place. Now I forsake the past as I knew it
To feed you into it. But that is not right. You step
Into it. I find you here, in the shifting grass,
In the late light, as if you had always been here.
Behind you two torn black cedars flame white
Against the darkening fields.... If you turn to me,
Quiet man? If you turn? If I speak softly?
If I say, Take off, take off your glasses.... Let me see
Your sightless eyes?.... I will be beautiful then....
Look, the heart moves as the moths do, scuttering
Like a child’s thoughts above this broken stone
And that. And I lie down. I lie down in the long grass,
Something I am not given to doing, and I feel
The weight of your hand on my belly, and the wind
Parts the grasses, and the distance spills through—
The glassy fields, the black black earth, the pale air
Streaming headlong toward the abbey’s far stones
And streaming back again.... The drowned scent of lilacs
By the abbey, it is a drug. It drives one senseless.
It drives one blind. You can cup the enormous lilac cones
In your hands— ripened, weightless, and taut—
And it is like holding someone’s heart in your hands,
Or holding a cloud of moths. I lift them up, my hands.
Grave man, bend toward me. Lay your face.... here....
Rest....! took the stalks of the dead wisteria
From the glass jar propped against the open grave
And put in the shell-shaped yellow wildflowers
I picked along the road. I cannot name them.
Bread and butter, perhaps. I am not good
With names. But nameless you walked toward me
And I knew you, a swelling in the heart,
A silence in the heart, the wild wind-blown grass
Burning— as the sun falls below the earth—
Brighter than a bed of lilies struck by snow.”
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