Seventh Seal

Original Text: 
Phyllis Gotlieb, Red Blood, Black Ink, White Paper: new and selected poems, 1961-2001 (Toronto: Exile Editions, 2002): 34. PS 8513.O77R33 Robarts Library
2me what the world is? I know
7                       The tears of Kings
9salute them.
11taught us the innocent bit
12Stars in the screenlit
13eyes flickered, wanderers
14rode westering, broad as a
15barndoor and dumb
16with virtue;
17                       oh, how we watched
19to THE (sunset) END till they
20forced us unhatched


1] Seventh Seal: Ingmar Bergman's Det Sjunde inseglet (1957), released in English a year later, depicts the last days of a medieval knight, Antonius Block (played by Max von Sydow), intensely occupied with questions of existence as he plays a game of chess with Death that, if lost, will mean his immediate death. Back to Line
4] Injuns: slangy word for North American native peoples in American western movies. Back to Line
5] triggerspring: the spring exerting pressure on the trigger of a gun as it is being pulled. Back to Line
8] glycerine: glycerol, a sweet thickish alcohol. salt: genuine human tears are salty, like the sea. Back to Line
10] curly shirlies: early child film stars like Shirley Jane Temple (1928-), a box-office hit from 1935 to 1938, famous for her golden locks, but later in life a working diplomat at the State Department, the United Nations, and abroad. Back to Line
18] William Boyd played Hopalong Cassidy, a western hero, with his horse Topper in over 65 movies between 1935 and 1948, based on the novels by Clarence E. Mulford. He eschewed violence and did not affront little boys by kissing girls on-screen. Perhaps there is a play on the Hotchkiss guns, really canons, used to kill Indians in the conquest of the west. Back to Line
21] pupas: cocoon stage of development between the larva and the fully-formed insect. Back to Line
22] An experience that, as a child, I remember as disorienting and harsh. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Within the Zodiac (1964).
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright Red Blood Black Ink White Paper 2002 Exile Editions