I have written before about poems originating from a resonant phrase that I will have come across, perhaps, by accident. In the case of my poem “Lilith”, all I can say is that I woke up one morning with the phrase “she wore a gown of night” buzzing around in my head. I have no idea whether the phrase occurred in some strange dream I might have had, or if it had just swum up, unbidden, from the depths of my unconscious mind. I suspected that I might have seen or heard the phrase in a book or song somewhere, but when I “googled” it, the results were completely negative.
As soon as I started trying to write a poem using the phrase, all sorts of images of “demon-lovers” and “succubi” suggested themselves. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, as I am no great fan of horror or fantasy fiction. Nevertheless, the stream of imagery was so rich that I ended up writing not just one, but two completely different poems about the subject of “succubi”. I might discuss the other poem – “Succubus” – at a later time, but it is “Lilith” that contains the phrase that kick-started the whole idea for me.
Her eyes were dark, her feet were bare,
she wore a gown of night.
Two ravens, hovering above,
obscured the lunar light.
She moved towards him soundlessly,
gliding through the air;
gentle breezes flickering,
tousling lustrous hair.
He could not meet her gaze; hopeless was the fight.
Timorous, enfeebled at this spectral sight,
he froze in place, his scattered senses
roaming where they might.
Her mantle closed around him,
infusing scent of wormwood.
Moths, fluttering from her mouth,
first chilled, then stilled his blood.