from The Luthier

The Varnish


How steeped in beauty these old names are:
Saffron, Sandalwood, Cinnibar,

Copal, Amber, and Orpiment,
All with colour and some with scent.

Names like music that said or sung
Melt their honey upon the tongue.

Speak them – the scents, the colours stir –
Dragon’s blood, Frankincense, and Myrrh.

Crimson, yellow, and orange dyes,
Dazzling the mind, the heart, the eyes …

Saffron, Sandalwood, Cinnibar
How steeped in beauty these old names are.

from The Luthier: poems (Reed, 1966), © Ruth Gilbert 1966, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974

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