A cup of fine tea: C. P. Stewart’s “I Will Always Remember”

C. P. Stewart’s “I Will Always Remember” [Read the poem here]
(First published in Issue #9 of
Cha)

–This post is written by Tammy Ho.

In the title and the opening line of the poem, the persona tells us that he remembers the smell of a lover: ‘I will always remember / the smell of you’ (Title & L1). The title is reminiscent of Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and here too we will see memory associated with smell and food.

The exact odour that the persona remembers is revealed in the next lines: ‘the smell of you // like morning dew / on a green apple’ (L1-L3). ‘Morning dew’ and ‘green apple’ can be viewed as metonyms of the lover, who is compared to new and ephemeral objects in a garden. Morning dew does not survive, it never does. Perhaps as Frost suggests, the colour ‘green’ is the ‘hardest hue to hold’ (c.f. “Nothing Gold Can Stay“). As in Frost’s poem, here ‘green’ too is associated with inexperience and innocence. This meaning of green is expanded further in the next stanza: ‘Sixteen years old / and a new-made thing’ (L4-L5). In some sense, a sixteen-year-old is hardly ‘a new-made thing’. The lover is ‘new’ in another way: the Edenic apple is tasted and a girl transforms into a woman, a newly made being. The smell that the persona remembers, then, is that of their first sexual experience. (Maybe the image is also literal. Was she wearing apple-scented perfume or lip gloss?) Comparing a lover to ‘a new-made thing’ also reminds one of e. e. cummings’s poem “i like my body when it is with your“; the opening and final lines are respectively, ‘i like my body when it is with your / body. It is so quite a new thing’ and ‘possibly i like the thrill / of under me you so quite new’.

Yes, men like it ‘new’.

The lover in Stewart’s poem does not stay, even though her aroma remains. The persona, shutting his sight, relies on only one sense – his sense of smell – to capture her: ‘I closed my eyes / to breathe you in, // but you were gone … // like morning dew / from a green apple’ (L6-L10). ‘[L]ike morning dew / from a green apple’ (L9-L10) echoes the earlier ‘like morning dew / on a green apple’ (L2-L3). This time the simile does not only represent the lover’s smell, it also describes her presumably inevitable departure, for morning dew simply cannot stay. The image of morning dew on or from a green apple is versatile: while previously it conjured the impression of freshness and transience, now it highlights the fleetingness of love. It may also suggest her loss of innocence as the morning dew of her youth evaporates and she enters a new phase of life. The overlapping nature of these lines seems to suggest that it is the brevity of love that makes it memorable.

Perhaps there is a certain unique scent associated with each ‘new-made thing’. In Stewart’s poem, we learn that the persona’s love smells ‘like morning dew / on a green apple’. Do you remember how you smelt when you were made new? Do you remember his or her smell? That ‘made-new’ moment may be gone now, ‘like morning dew / from a green apple’, but perhaps something does stay? Do you remember it? Will you always remember?

C. P. Stewart lives with his family in North Yorkshire. Previously singer/songwriter with the cult band Laughing Gravy, his work has been widely published in England , Canada , Australia and the United States. He was the poetry editor for Sotto Voce arts and literary magazine. His first collection of poetry Taking it In was published by Koo Poetry Press in November 2009 and was reviewed in Cha.

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8 Responses to “A cup of fine tea: C. P. Stewart’s “I Will Always Remember””

  1. Bob Bradshaw Says:

    What a deceptively straight forward poem….it’s so lovely in its clear and simple imagery…like a Japanese painting….

    You’ve done a marvelous job reviewing this poem…I especially like the references to Proust and Cummings….

    This would be a wonderful poem for a workshop on writing…too many beginning writers over write, as if stroking paint over and over the same patch of canvas will make everything clearer, and it doesn’t.

    A lovely poem, and a lovely review…thanks! Bob

  2. t Says:

    “Deceptively straight forward” — yes! I also liked Charlie’s poems on his website:

    -“Shadows”: http://www.cpstewart-poet.co.uk/poem1-1.htm
    -“Bird”: http://www.cpstewart-poet.co.uk/poem2-1.htm
    -“Snapshot”: http://www.cpstewart-poet.co.uk/poem3-1.htm

  3. Papa Osmubal Says:

    Yes, a beautiful poem by C.P. Stewart here. Simplicity is the strength of this poem. If there is one thing I hate about poetry is when it pretends and attempts to be “high” and “highbrow”. This poem by Stewart has everything that I like in a poem– simple and straightforward. It doesn’t pretend. It shows. It follows the tradition set by great free verse gurus like William Carlos Williams and Eliot. Simple words are strong and potent when they create images, indeed. And images created from simple words are likewise strong and potent. We just hope that poets attain and get this behaviour and mentality in writing as demonstrated by C.P. Stewart in this poem.

  4. Chorister Says:

    I like your expounding on ‘greenness’ and ‘newness’. :)

  5. Charlie Stewart Says:

    Dear Tammy, my sincere thanks for your succinct and insightful analysis of my poem. I’m honoured, both that you took the time and that the names of e.e.cummings and Robert Frost should have been invoked in
    connection with it.
    Whilst I was writing this poem I was haunted by the misgiving that I had unwittingly stolen some of the images from W.B.Yeats – although I revisited his work and couldn’t come up with anything. (His silver and golden apples are of a different order.) You didn’t mention him in your piece so I guess any influence of his must have been subliminal.
    My thanks, also, to Papa Osmubal and Bob Bradshaw for their very kind words.
    Charlie.

  6. t Says:

    Ah… Charlie… “The Song of Wandering Aengus”.

  7. Yamabuki Says:

    Asian Pear
    Blossoming
    outside
    my window

    Why
    are you
    Still dreaming?

    Yamabuki

  8. Bob Bradshaw Says:

    Thx, Tammy, for the website pointers…’Snapshot’ by Mr. Stewart is indeed another striking poem! I especially love the last few lines, about him and his mother:

    “I am bound up, tight like a pupa, in a heavy woollen blanket.

    And on her face is a look of such rapt concern,
    as though she knew, even then, that I was utterly defenceless.”

    By the way,Yamabuki, I really like your poem “Asian Pear”…

    Best, Bob

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