The low lands call I am tempted to answer They are offering me a free dwelling Without having to conquer The massive mountain makes its move Beckoning me to ascend A much more difficult path To get up the slippery bend I cannot choose both I have a choice to make I must be wise This will determine my fate I choose, I choose the mountain With all its stress and strain Because only by climbing Can I rise above the plain I choose the mountain And I will never stop climbing I choose the mountain And I shall forever be ascending I choose the mountain
My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began; So is it now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, Or let me die! The Child is father of the Man; And I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety.
The gist: Poems about love, LA, feeling lost, and finding yourself.
The background: Not much except that I should probably give a heads up that I’m biased as a fan of Lana Del Rey’s music, so when I heard she was putting out a poetry collection last year I figured I’d like it.
The tea: The poems in this book read to me like the more elevated version of Tumblr poetry—you know, those overly simplistic poems that are more like statements with lots of line breaks that suddenly transform them into something “deep”—but here’s how I actually mean that as a compliment:
I like the accessibility of these kinds of poems. I don’t think a poem needs to be an inscrutable puzzle or have layers and layers of meaning to be effective.
While Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass is more mature and insightful than Tumblr poetry, the poems have the same kind of approachability and give you something to latch onto when reading. They’re about relatable situations, like getting over someone, moving to a new city, the current state of the world.
Plus, I like that lines like, “Sugar sugar lips and teeth / fingertips touch emojis” speak to present-day love and intimacy; sure, a letter or phone call is easier to romanticize than pressing a button to send a digital heart to your lover—that’s why I appreciate artists who embrace this aspect of modern living and can make it sound just as romantic.
Accompanying the typewriter-page poems are lo-fi, brightly filtered photos of LA taken by Del Rey. The whole package might come off as artsy hipster overkill if it weren’t so predictably on-brand for Lana Del Rey, and why fix what works? It’s a pretty aesthetic.
The wrap-up: Reading through these reflective and dreamily worded poems while glancing at the hazy LA visuals isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon or two. Especially if you like contemporary poetry or Lana’s music.
The rating: ⭐⭐⭐/5
May my eyes always stay level to the horizon, may they never gaze as high as heaven to ask why
May I never go where angels fear to tread, so as to have to ask for answers in the sky
The whys in this lifetime I’ve found are inconsequential compared to the magic of nowness– the solution to most questions
Not like Dante discovering a commedia upon the slopes of heaven I would paint a different kind of Paradiso in which the people would be naked as they always are in scenes like that because it is supposed to be a painting of their souls but there would be no anxious angels telling them how heaven is the perfect picture of a monarchy and there would be no fires burning in the hellish holes below in which I might have stepped nor any altars in the sky except fountains of imagination
Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
To friends at home, the lone, the admired, the lost The gracious old, the lovely young, to May The fair, December the beloved, These from my blue horizon and green isles, These from this pinnacle of distances I, The unforgetful, dedicate.
Where there’s a wall there’s a way through a gate or door. There’s even a ladder perhaps and a sentinel who sometimes sleeps. There are secret passwords you can overhear. There are methods of torture for extracting clues to maps of underground passages. There are zeppelins, helicopters, rockets, bombs, battering rams, armies with trumpets whose all at once blast shatters the foundations.
Where there’s a wall there are words to whisper by loose bricks, wailing prayers to utter, birds to carry messages taped to their feet. There are letters to be written — poems even.
Faint as in a dream is the voice that calls from the belly of the wall.
Yesterday, upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there He wasn’t there again today I wish, I wish he’d go away…
When I came home last night at three The man was waiting there for me But when I looked around the hall I couldn’t see him there at all! Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more! Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door… (slam!)
Last night I saw upon the stair A little man who wasn’t there He wasn’t there again today Oh, how I wish he’d go away…