This Is My Beloved

Benton This Is My Beloved

I came across This Is My Beloved, Walter Benton’s verse diary of a love affair, only a couple of years ago. It is a powerful description of love discovered and lost, full of joy, passion, melancholy memories, and regret. It is intense, stark, and full of beautiful, touching images.

I managed to get hold of a copy of the 1967 edition, cover scan above. This is the entry for 3 June:

            Your eyes never opened after the last kiss.
We had loved hard —
it’s all over your throat and hair, it lies on your mouth as a wild
red flower: it’s on your cheeks and forehead in waning radiance.

The wonderful strength of your thighs is back to normal beauty.
Your nipples contract… gather in like blossoms for the night.
Your hand half-sleeping finds me… your touch is very dear.

Now you are all sleep, alone with yourself — and a tall blue fence
around you: not a tendon taut, not a secret secret,
you are all sleep and alone in a warm and velvet world —

many an idle dream is looking for a home of sleep like yours to happen in.

I also came across a CD of Arthur Prysock readings excerpts from Benton’s poems to jazz. It is not entirely successful, I feel; Prysock reads well but sometimes the music is a little intrusive. But it is certainly worth listening to.

There’s also a version with Lawrence Harvey reading to music by Herbie Mann:

Walter Benton was born in Austria in 1907. His parents emigrated to the USA in 1913. He died, alone, in 1976.

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