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Selma Jeanne Cohen

Preface.

Cohen, Jeanne Selma: “Preface”, Raftis, Alkis: Dance in poetry. An international anthology of poems on dance. Athens, Dora Stratou Greek Dances Theater & International Dance Council, 1991.

PREFACE

Dance has meant many things to many poets.

Some, like Denise Levertov, see themselves in the role of the

dancer:

to leap becomes, while it lasts,

heart pounding, breath hurting,

the deepest, the only joy.

Others, like William Meredith, place themselves in the audience:

/ am but one among your crowd of starers,

One of the blur of shirt-fronts and hands clapping.

There are those who admire the ballerina, as does Norma Farber:

Dancer, how do you rise?

The ground sends me.

Grace suspends me.

While Adrian Mitchell prefers an earthier genre:

....big dancers, they stamp and they stamp fast,

Trying to keep their balance on the globe.

Carl Sandburg wrote some lines for Gene Kelly to tap dance to:

Can you dance a couple of commas?

And bring it to a finish with a period?

Sacheverell Sitwell was enchanted by the Bayaderes:

They sway like young trees with wind upon their leaves

In an airy rapture........

And Thomas Hardy imagined Grandma Jenny swooping through:

The favourite Quick-step "Speed the Plough” –

(Cross hands, cast off, and wheel)

"The Triumph", "Sylph", "The Row-dow-dow",

Famed "Major Malley's Reel".......

The pleasures of dance and of poetry are manifold. Some dancers are happiest with the steps of classical ballet; others prefer jazz or jigs. Some poets choose to describe dancers in sonnets; others in free verse. The choices are numerous. The riches are here for the reader to enjoy.

Selma Jeanne Cohen

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