Listen to Podcast Interview with Grace Cavalieri on The Poet and the Poem

Ballad of the Girl with the Green Guitar

        The sun was gold, the sky was blue.
                She said I wrote this song for you—
                        a ballad in the key of true
                                upon my green guitar

        She sang of a pacing panther's cage,
                a jaguar's heart in a scarlet rage,
                        how all the world's a kind of stage
                                where she plays her green guitar.

        She sang of a recent dream she'd had
                that her therapist called both good and bad,
                        how it left her feeling slightly sad—
                                like songs on a green guitar.

        I had a dream last night, she said.
                Your body was in it, but not your head.
                        The Cheshire Cat's was there instead,
                                eyeing my green guitar.

        Your cat-headed body was locked in a cell,
                and I was upset, not taking it well.
                        Cheshire-eyes flashed, said Where in hell
                                did you get that green guitar?

        I ran to the judge to post your bail.
                He said he'd let you out of jail,
                        but the bond he set was the Holy Grail
                                and a song on my green guitar.

        The Grail was easy 'cause I had three—
                which left one each for you and me.
                        So the song is what finally set you free –
                                released by my green guitar.

        They opened your cell to let you go,
                and you replied: Much thanks, but no.
                        I'd rather wait and take it slow
                                Like blues on a green guitar.

        I'm not some new Eurydice
                who needs a songstress saving me
                        with chordophone and poetry—
                                proud myth of the green guitar.

        The world, you see, is not your stage.
                And what you think is an iron cage
                        are marginal notes on an empty page
                                in a book called Green Guitar.

        You're older now, and over-bold.
                Your dream-song world has taken hold,
                        but the sky is blue, the sun is gold
                                That burnishes your guitar.

        And that, she said, completes my song.
                The lyrics didn't take me long.
                        A simple ballad, plain and strong,
                                for a solo green guitar.

        She said I understand the dream's
                symbols and entangled themes—
                        and yet, despite it all, life seems
                                enlarged on my green guitar.

        The sun had set. The sky grew dark.
                Shadows had settled over the park.
                        The nightingale displaced the lark
                                and so faded her green guitar.