Ezra's Poem Parfum Absolute (Soivohle)

Ezra Pound's poem "In a Station of the Metro" (1913) is a little treasure of understatement:
The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.
In 2008, the editor of a blog called Memory and Desire speculated what might happen if this poem were offered to a perfumer in lieu of a brief. She ended up inviting fourteen independent/niche perfumers (including Ineke Ruhland, Michael Storer, Yosh Han, Andy Tauer, Vero Kern, and Liz Zorn) to weigh in with their interpretations of Pound's two lines. Zorn prefaced her contribution with a list of inspirations: the Lost Generation, the words 'sweet decay', Degas' painting The Absinthe Drinkers, old books, faded corsages. The aim of the resulting fragrance was to "pull our minds to a place of nostalgic reverence".

Ezra's Poem achieves the objective with studied, painterly grace. Here, the chiaroscuro quality of the last century's best powerhouse orientals (Tabu, Youth Dew, Schiaparelli Shocking) has been  reconstructed, layer upon layer, by the skillful hand of a master.

On a ground of classic chypre, strokes of deep shadow appear in the form of cepes and agarwood. Earthy, moist, and profound, these notes perfectly complement the rich, 'retro' patchouli-leather which makes up Ezra's heart. Heliotropin applies a transient, silvery gleam to the whole, alluding both to Pound's springtime scene and Guerlain's "blue hour". Lest we take on a chill, sweet vanillic resins offer shelter from the April rain, returning us to the warmth of home and hearth.

Ezra's Poem is full of moody things-- wood, water, mushrooms, burning sap, old leather, and yes, the fragile papery petals of a forgotten corsage hidden in a bureau drawer. Once worn, it lingers long, both on skin and in memory. Evidently, it haunts its own maker as well. Two years after creating Ezra's Poem, Zorn was still thinking about it. In 2011 -- once more in response to a challenge -- she composed the exhilarating Riverwalk, a journey through extremes of shade and brilliant sunshine. Indeed, when the eye adjusts, one might recognize Ezra's Poem flickering deep within Riverwalk-- a fragrant revenant spirit walking an old, familiar byway.

Though both fragrances have been discontinued, there is always the hope that their tale will be told again. Fresh beginnings, melancholy endings, eternal returns: the very fabric of reinvention.

Scent Elements: Oakmoss, labdanum, atlas cedar, heliotropin, agarwood, birch tar, cepes, vanilla, frankincense, sandalwood, amber, orris tincture