from A Defence of PoetryPercy Bysshe ShelleyThe most unfailing herald, companion, and follower of the awakening of a great people to work a beneficial change in opinion or institution, is poetry. At such periods there is an accumulation of the power of communicating and receiving intense and impassioned conceptions respecting man and nature. The persons in whom this power resides, may often, as far as regards many portions of their nature, have little apparent correspondence with that spirit of good of which they are the ministers. But even whilst they deny and abjure, they are yet compelled to serve, the power which is seated on the throne of their own soul. It is impossible to read the compositions of the most celebrated writers of the present day without their words. They measure the circumference and sound the depths of human nature with a comprehensive and all-penetrating spirit, and they are themselves perhaps the most sincerely astonished at its manifestations; for it is less their spirit than the spirit of the age. Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friend 1: "Awesome fan mail from a cranky old man. He forwarded my essay to his two nieces, 'who are heavily tattooed and go through boys like toilet paper.' I anticipate a lovely correspondence with him."Friend 2: "Yesterday, a frail older woman, with very thick glasses and hearing aids, moved her walker toward me and asked for my assistance. We were near the register at a local book store. Her weak voice trembled as she said 'Excuse me, young man, would you please look at these buttons and tell me if there is one that says "Ask me if I give a shit" ?'"
Friday, January 28, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
PropositionAnne Britting OlesonA year since I've seen you, andtwo men I know makeoffers in the same day. One wheedles:nobody needs to know. No,I answer, everyone always finds out.The other suggests sexwill liven up the friendship.Or kill it, I can't help reply.They are both too short. Andmarried. But this emptinesswarns it wouldn't take muchto change my mind, to tip thescales in either's direction,and I'd be back, as I'vebeen too often, tumbling inthe grass, on a back seat,somewhere, anywhere, wantingdesperately for it to be you.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
from The Diary of Samuel PepysJanuary 12, 1668This evening I observed my wife mighty dull, and I myself was not mighty fond, because of some hard words she did give me at noon, out of a jealousy at my being abroad this morning, which, God knows, it was upon the business of the Office unexpectedly: but I to bed, not thinking but she would come after me. But waking by and by out of a slumber, which I usually fall into presently after my coming into the bed, I found she did not prepare to come to bed, but got fresh candles, and more wood for her fire, it being mighty cold, too. At this being troubled, I after a while prayed her to come to bed; so, after an hour or two, she silent, and I now and then praying her to come to bed, she fell out into a fury, that I was a rogue, and false to her. I did, as I might truly, deny it, and was mightily troubled, but all would not serve. At last, about one o'clock, she came to my side of the bed, and drew my curtaine open, and with the tongs red hot at the ends, made as if she did design to pinch me with them, at which, in dismay, I rose up, and with a few words she laid them down; and did by little and little, very sillily, let all the discourse fall; and about two, but with much seeming difficulty, came to bed, and there lay well all night, and long in bed talking together, with much pleasure, it being, I know, nothing but her doubt of my going out yesterday, without telling her of my going, which did vex her, poor wretch! last night, and I cannot blame her jealousy, though it do vex me to the heart.[P.S. He really "was a rogue, and false to her," though not, apparently, on this particular occasion.]
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
It is the old story,
But the old story suffices when it’s all there is:
Birds starting and the first light
Coming on like a minor chord struck and held,
Shaping something out of the silence
Even as it fades away.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Somehow they're never quite what we meant them to be,Our lives and the little musicWe make of them.
Friday, January 21, 2011
But far beneath this wondrous world upon the surface, another and still stranger world met our eyes as we gazed over the side. For, suspended in those watery vaults, floated the forms of the nursing mothers of the whales, and those that by their enormous girth seemed shortly to be mothers. The lake . . . was to a considerable depth exceedingly transparent; and as human infants when suckling will calmly and fixedly gaze away from the breast, as if leading two different lives at the time; and while yet drawing mortal nourishment, be still spiritually feasting upon some unearthly reminiscence;--even so did the young of these whales seem looking up towards us, but not at us, as if we were but a bit of Gulf-weed in their new-born sight.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Their point of resemblance to each other, and their difference from so many American women, lay in the fact that they were all happy to exist in a man's world--they preserved their individuality through men and not by opposition to them. They would all three have made alternatively good courtesans or good wives, not by the accident of birth but through the greater accident of finding their man or not finding him.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Monday, January 17, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
On the power play, one of the Dom's kids streaked up the left boards, took a slap shot from twenty-five feet. Kovach flashed his glove up and caught it. The whistle blew. Kovach stood up from his crouch, calmly removed his glove, took the puck in his sweaty hand, then turned and gunned it into the stands, hitting a black-haired boy in the forehead, knocking him back. He fell from the top row of the bleachers. The benches emptied. Kids clambered over the Plexiglas. The St. Dom's scorekeeper--a man my father's age--jumped on my back, and I pried his hands apart and shook him off, then swung my stick at him to keep him away. I had to get to Kovach, who was in a pile of bodies in front of the net. . . . Those who hadn't joined us on the ice were on their feet, cheering us on, crazed. When I got to Kovach, he was holding a cheerleader in a tight headlock--she was using both elbows to jab him in the stomach--and I could tell he'd broken his nose again.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
According to Malcolm Cowley's introduction to my very ragged copy of Tender Is the Night, Fitzgerald believed that the novel was the best thing he had written and expected it to be a smash hit. So he was shocked and depressed when the public did not feel likewise. The book was originally released in 1934, but after its tepid welcome, the writer continued to fiddle with it. Becoming convinced that some structural error was responsible for its failure, he took voluminous notes about his plans to reorganize it. Nonetheless, despite all his best efforts, the novel was not republished before his death. My edition follows Fitzgerald's revision plans, and one of the largest of those revisions was the beginning: instead of opening with the fine and mysterious Rosemary Hoyt scene on the Riviera, he begins chronologically by introducing us to his main character, doomed Dick Diver. Now, I have just reached the Riviera scene so can say right now (and as far as I can remember I've never read this novel before so I have no idea why the copy is so beat up) that it's a far more compelling scene visually and emotionally than the opening above. But as I understand Cowley, Fitzgerald worried that it led the reader into misunderstanding the centrality of Dick's decay. So he created this bildungsroman sort of beginning as a way to defuse those misapprehensions. Did it work? Well, I haven't finished the novel, but I can tell you that Gatsby it ain't. One of the beauties of Gatsby--maybe its greatest beauty--is the sense I have that the tale is told in one rushing breath. There is an illusion of seamlessness, a narrative and imagistic fluidity that Tender does not have in the least. Gatbsy feels like magic. This novel feels like a book that a man hammered out on a typewriter.
By the end of the first line you can tell that Roberto Bolano's novel The Savage Detectives is going to imitate either a diary or a series of letters. In other words, you expect choppiness and limited vision and a singular voice, which is exactly what you get, at least for the first half of the book. This is the sort of novel that millions of people who aren't me laud as great. Those people include my husband as well as many other people whom I not only respect but who seem cooler and smarter than I am. So I am loath to reveal my essential lack of hipness by making any kind of remark at all about this book. I will say that all of its clever choppiness and confusing character introductions and the name dropping of invented surrealists and the accumulations of sexy, mean-spirited women and the fact that nothing ever happens unless you count waiting around in cafes for poets who don't show up became, in combination with the strangely parallel distractions of Moby-Dick, almost impossible to bear. I spent a lot of time at the kitchen table with both novels arranged in front of me and doing everything possible to avoid opening either one of them. The Savage Detectives started winning the battle, but only because its pages weren't falling out. Yet I wanted Moby-Dick to win, so I stuck the Bolano back on the shelf, at which point my husband said, "Didn't finish that book, did you." Notice his lack of question mark.
The Prince of Lampedusa never knew that his novel Il Gattopardo (The Leopard) would become one of the greatest and most popular works ever published in Italian. He never knew it would be published at all, and in fact had received yet another rejection letter just before his death. Lampedusa spent his life as a reader, as a rememberer, as the last scion of an ancient noble family; and he created the world of The Leopard from stories of his own ancestors and from the 18th-century palaces that he himself grew up in during the early part of the 20th century and that were destroyed during World War II in the Allied bombing of Sicily. E. M. Forster said of The Leopard, "This is one of the great lonely books." I think that remark is exact, and much of that quality derives from the part that the palaces play in the novel. This is not to overlook the fact that Lampedusa's central character, the Prince of Salina, is one of the great figures of literature. But the houses! They are very nearly living things themselves, as this opening paragraph makes so clear. The paintings and the tapestries are as sensitive to change as the man who recites the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries. How I wish I were wandering among the hundred rooms of this palace. How love this lonely book.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Sample 1In the spring of 1917, when Doctor Richard Diver first arrived in Zurich, he was twenty-six years old, a fine age for a man, indeed the very acme of bachelorhood. Even in war-time days it was a fine age for Dick, who was already too valuable, too much of a capital investment to be shot off in a gun. Years later it seemed to him that even in this sanctuary he did not escape lightly, but about that he never fully made up his mind--in 1917 he laughed at the idea, saying apologetically that the war didn't touch him at all. Instructions from his local board were that he was to complete his studies in Zurich and take a degree as he had planned.Sample 2November 2I've been cordially invited to join the visceral realists. I accepted, of course. There was no initiation ceremony. It was better that way.Sample 3"Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen."The daily recital of the Rosary was over. For half an hour the steady voice of the Prince had recalled the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries; for half an hour other voices had interwoven a lilting hum from which, now and again, would chime some unlikely word; love, virginity, death; and during that hum the whole aspect of the rococo drawing-room seemed to change; even the parrots spreading iridescent wings over the silken walls appeared abashed; even the Magdalen between the two windows looked a penitent and not just a handsome blonde lost in some dubious daydream as she usually was.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Night SleddingDawn PotterStealthy as an owl, and more silent,the trail kneels before us, our mystery.Now we are the breath of the world,the moving life. Our boots skirla brave cry. Around us, vaguesnow feathers the black air, a whisper,a sweet, uncertain kiss.The trees of the forest tender their bare hands.And beyond them, the white hill opens,magic lantern of night.Shouting, you run forwardand hurl yourselves onto your sleds:two thumps, the hiss of flight: and you are gone.A swift weight presses on the earth.I feel the prickings of fear.In the pines, a small wind quivers.The owl shakes out her soft wings.[from Boy Land & Other Poems (Deerbrook Editions, 2004)]
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The word of a snail on the plate of a leaf?It is not mine. Do not accept it.
Monday, January 10, 2011
The Undefiled Bed
Hail wedded Love, mysterious Law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise of all things common else.
Though by now we’ve been married for nearly sixteen years, more than once Tom and I have announced over a beer that we’d never do it again. As far as I can tell, neither one of us is hinting at divorce. And as far as I can tell, our declaration isn’t one of those conversational ice chunks that occasionally float up from the marital iceberg: those double-edged couple-ish remarks like “She doesn’t eat parsnips, so I don’t cook parsnips” or “I’ve always left the decorating up to you” or “He’s never enjoyed talking on the phone.” We in fact have an easygoing friendship, don’t argue about child raising, admire each other’s artwork, and can stack hay without quarrelling. So on the surface, it’s strange that we’ve come to this conclusion about what appears to be a flourishing partnership.
I think one source of our antipathy is getting married. This, in itself, is odd because I (and even Tom—though being the skinny, silent type, he winces at the prospect of all overwrought public gatherings) actually enjoy attending weddings. My cousin celebrated his marriage to a remarkably large-breasted girl in a New Jersey firehouse, and that was very fun. My generally self-contained mother drank cheap wine and danced recklessly to “Love Shack.” The bride’s satin skirt ripped out at the waistband during “YMCA” and had to be safety-pinned with much fuss and flurry, while the bride was screeching at Tom, crouched in a corner with his camera, “Hey! Are you taking any good photos of this?” The Presbyterian groom’s family was confused by the ziti and sauce (“Who eats macaroni at a wedding?”), which the bride’s Italian family insisted was de rigueur (“Everybody eats macaroni at a wedding!”).
A wedding is one of the few celebrations in which people of all ages dress up in fancy outfits, consume ridiculous food, pace solemnly up and down aisles, cry in public, sing comic songs, hold hands with their fathers, and do the limbo. What can be wrong with an occasion that jumbles together high ceremony and cheerful absurdity to celebrate a new bond? It seems, in some ways, an ideal amalgam of human social relations.
Yet when I’m chipping away at Paradise Lost and happen across lines like these, where Adam and Eve are getting ready for bed, I feel a twinge of regret:
Observing none, but adoration pure
Which God likes best, into thir inmost bower
Handed they went; and eas’d the putting off
These troublesome disguises which wee wear,
Straight side by side were laid.
For a poet so addicted to syntactic contortion and celestial formality (especially in matters of battle: how he loves a stately clash), Milton’s thoughts about marriage are notably modest, even austere. To begin with, he equates lapsarian marriage with clothes, and he cannot stand “these troublesome disguises.” He’s so vehement, in so many places, about how awful they are that I frivolously begin to wonder if he had a wool allergy, or maybe a mole on the back of his neck that chafed against his collar, or perhaps was married to an inept seamstress. Trivializing is unfair, however, because his diatribes against clothing are, beneath their bluster, some of the most poignant passages in the poem. For to Milton, in our naked glory, humanity most nearly replicates the beauty of the angels:
Two of far nobler shape erect and tall,
Godlike erect, with native Honor clad
In naked Majesty seem’d Lords of all,
And worthy seem’d, for in thir looks Divine
The image of thir glorious Maker shone,
Truth, Wisdom, Sanctitude severe and pure.
In our fallen world, this vision of humanity is not only patently false but even embarrassing. The rare beautiful bodies among us are more renowned for stupidity than for “Truth, Wisdom, Sanctitude severe and pure.” As for the rest of us aging grunts, our flabby, bony, pasty shells seem evidence of both physical and metaphorical ineptitude—a frail, imploding carapace, a monstrous rhinoceros suit, a winding sheet.
Milton’s vision of human beauty charms me, and makes me sad, because unlike our present conceptions of beauty, which are so often narcissistic and self-flagellating and victimized and mob-controlled, his depends on a shared, equivalent gaze. “Straight side by side were laid” may be the starkest description of a marriage bed I’ve ever read, an image more akin to a double funeral than a honeymoon suite. But its starkness is also simplicity, and innocence, and, perhaps most movingly, concentration. Look only at me, my love, and I will look only at you.
Marriage is indeed a concentration: both an unswerving attention to another human being and the distillation, day by day, year by year, of what matters in a shared life. Since a wedding is a sloppy froth of cousins, ribbons, parents, pomp, cake, bad photos, and mishap, it seems like a silly way to begin such an enterprise. But I don’t have anything against silliness, though clearly Milton didn’t care to picture our noble First Parents as gigglers. What I hate is the idea of being looked at by all those wedding guests.
A wedding is a story with lots of characters. A marriage is a story with two. No matter how tightly it intersects with other family divisions—children, parents, cousins, ancestors—marriage itself is a separate world, remote as an island. Scanning the crowd of couples at a local basketball game, I note strange alliances and ponder unanswerable questions: “What does she see in that jerk?” or “How does it feel to wake up every morning next to such an enormous woman?” But I’ll never know. Even children, those greedy observers, never in all their lives understand the secret links and fissures in their parents’ union.
“Straight side by side were laid.” This is what it feels like, marriage, on fine days and on bad days. Lately I tried to have a conversation with Tom on this very subject, as we paused together in the kitchen. The kettle hissed on the woodstove, and he was holding a wet dishtowel. I had propped a basket of folded shirts against my hip. Our sons had shot off into their own orbits, sorting through Legos or listening to Lone Ranger episodes or folding paper airplanes. It was a regular winter evening, cold and dark, and we were pleased to be together, though not talking about it. And then I tried to talk about it and found there was nothing to say. “Of course weddings are nothing like being married,” he said.
“But that’s what I’m trying to write about,” I explained.
“But weddings are nothing like being married,” he said.
I went up to bed feeling confused and disappointed. Had I expected some clarification, some revelation? Was I trying to articulate something too obvious to mention? Or was I misunderstanding some larger, more vital conceit? And then, unexpectedly, Tom followed me to bed almost as soon as I’d gone up—Tom, who likes to haunt the house late and alone: and that was a surprise and a pleasure; for we rarely have a chance to lie awake together, feeling the night chill seep through the window at the foot of the bed, feeling our own warmth seep from one quiet body to the next. And though I still had no clarification, no revelation, what I did have was comfort, the dozy, inarticulate comfort of contiguity, which has nothing to do with passion or epiphany but is a good end to a regular day.
Being fond of both Tom and the conjugal ideal, I find it easy to shuffle among such sentimental snapshots and pretend they render an honest portrait of marriage. Milton wasn’t such a fool. Consider the tale of Sin, the “Portress of Hell Gate,” who is Satan’s daughter, born Athena-like from his head, and also mother of his monstrous son, Death:
I pleas’d, and with attractive graces won
The most averse, thee chiefly, who full oft
Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing
Becam’st enamor’d, and such joy thou took’st
With me in secret, that my womb conceiv’d
A growing burden.
I think Milton intends the amours of Sin and Satan to work as a lewd parody of Eve and Adam’s “bed . . . undefil’d.” But how different is the pure, absorbed, human gaze from Satan and Sin’s “Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing”? As a lapsarian wife, I find the distinction difficult to untangle, though I do see one other significant difference: modest Eve has plenty of unencumbered recreational sex, and flirty Sin instantly gets pregnant, after which everything goes downhill for her.
God intended Eve to be “our general Mother”; and in theory, Milton is all for babies: “Our Maker bids increase, who bids abstain/But our Destroyer, foe to God and Man?” But the poet is squeamish. After Sin gets knocked up, Satan instantly deserts her, and I suspect Milton doesn’t necessarily fault him for sidestepping the mess.
Pensive here I sat
Alone, but long I sat not, till my womb
Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown
Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes.
At last this odious offspring whom thou seest
Thine own begotten, breaking violent way
Tore through my entrails, that with fear and pain
Distorted, all my nether shape grew
Transform’d: but he my inbred enemy
Forth issu’d, brandishing his fatal Dart
Made to destroy: I fled, and cri’d out Death.
Death proceeds to rape his mother and beget a pack of “yelling Monsters,” and the original unity of two dissolves into pain and chaos and misery.
Is this hell? Or is it family life?
I didn’t fall in love with Tom because I thought he’d make an excellent father of sons. I fell in love with the way the backs of his knees looked as he walked away from me down a dormitory corridor, the way his hair stuck straight up from his forehead in the mornings, the way he never bossed me around or made me play softball, the way he entered into the private lives of housepets, the way he stared up at the sky.
So loading children into a love affair’s two-person rowboat is indeed a kind of hell. The boat rocks dangerously; it runs up against rocks and is menaced by sea serpents. Though I treasure my sons (and got pregnant on purpose), it took me all the years of their babyhood to reconcile myself to their random, interrupting confusions, to their demands and distractions, to how they sucked away my inner life and my married life. Given his high respect for both the unity of two and the fruits of his own imagination, Milton must have found the proximity of a wailing two-year-old in the kitchen nearly unbearable—as indeed, indeed, it is. I have knelt on that kitchen floor myself, wailing alongside that child. With diapers to pin and tantrums to strangle, who has time or space to “Sleep on,/Blest pair”?
If, in my marriage, I’m grateful for our wordless moments of delight, I’m equally irritated and put-upon and distracted, willing to injure and be injured, to bitch when Tom doesn’t wipe the kitchen counters after he’s been roofing all day, to fight jealousy and feed its fires, to lie in bed and hope he’ll be the one who gets up to deal with an unhappy child or a barking dog. Every day, I’m dissatisfied with my lot—sick of sweeping up the mud our boots have dropped, sick of washing the sheets our bodies have crumpled, sick of nurturing the sons we prize.
One day I told Tom I was glad to be married to him, and he said, “If you hadn’t married me, you would have married someone else.” Can you blame me when I cringe at the thought of enduring another wedding? For yes, he’s right. I wanted a husband, and I have one. Therefore, I love him. Such an admission doesn’t do much for my credibility as a well-read woman with feminist proclivities. But how more ambiguous than politics is marriage, “mysterious Law,” “shot forth [with] peculiar graces”—a strange land, a faraway town, a garden, a shelter, a bed.
For all of Milton’s talk about male dominance and female subjection—how Adam’s “fair large Front and Eye sublime declar’d/Absolute rule,” how Eve’s “wanton ringlets . . . impli’d/Subjection”—he knew he had to deal with the biblical facts of the story: Eve talked Adam into eating the apple. “Subjection” may be “impli’d” and “Absolute rule” “declar’d”; yet even in the most autocratic of marriages, the power balance tips and sways, and a covert gesture can topple a fortress. Blame the Fall on Satan if you like, but Adam was already predisposed to please his wife. How could paradise be otherwise? Their perfect marriage was its own undoing.
Here Love his golden shafts imploys, here lights
His constant Lamp, and waves his purple wings,
Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile
Of Harlots, loveless, joyless, unindear’d,
Casual fruition, nor in Court Amours,
Mixt Dance, and wanton Mask, or Midnight Ball,
Or Serenate, which the starv’d Lover sings
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.
These lull’d by Nightingales imbracing slept,
And on thir naked limbs the flow’ry roof
Show’rd Roses, which the Morn repair’d.
Even though I know better, when I read this passage, I want to believe it can be true for Tom and me, despite our lapses and angers. I’ll happily attend your next “Mixt Dance, and wanton Mask, or Midnight Ball,” but more than anything I want to be “lull’d by Nightingales” in my own narrow bed, listening to the vague thump of Tom’s stereo in the darkroom, hoping he’ll remember to stoke the woodstove before he comes up and knowing that, when he does, he’ll embrace me, even though I might be too sound asleep to notice.
To me, the saddest word in the passage is “unindear’d.” The tragedy it implies cuts me to the heart. For it’s endearment, not romance or passion (lovely as both can be), that makes marriage a solace. On a late winter afternoon I sit on the school bleachers with my fidgety son Paul, watching the Harmony boys win their first basketball game of the season, waiting for the fourth period, when the coach will finally let my crabby, benchwarming son James snag two minutes of play. If Tom gets home from work soon enough, if he has time to change his filthy clothes and wash the sheetrock dust out of his sticking-up hair, he’ll drop in; and sure enough, there he is now in the doorway—at forty, still thin and wary as a boy—paying his one dollar, pausing to let the players rush to the other side of the court; and now he’s walking along the edge of the floor, scanning the bleachers, looking for me; and when he catches my eye, he hurries his step; he has a goal, an intention; he scoots up quickly to get out of the players’ path and sits down behind me; I lean back into his knee, and he says, settling his knee against my spine, “You shoveled out my truck.”
And I say, “I did.”
And he says, “They’re winning.”
And I say, “They are.”
“Perpetual Fountain of Domestic sweets.” Why waste all that money on a wedding when this is what you get?
[Published by the University of Massachusetts Press, 2009. An early version of this chapter appeared in the Southwest Review 92, no. 4.]
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Saturday, January 8, 2011
The cometsHave such a space to cross,
Friday, January 7, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I lay my ear to furious Latin.I am not a Caesar.I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.They can be sent back.They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Yes, this event is happening at the exact same time as the gubernatorial inauguration in Augusta: Wednesday, January 5 at 12PM.
Yes, this is a celebration not a protest.
Yes, we’ll be holding this event at one of the most obvious places in Maine to celebrate poetry: in front of the statue of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in Longfellow Square, at the intersection of Congress Street and State Street in Portland.
Yes, there will be stickers.
Yes, we’d love for you to bring and read some of your favorite Maine poems, especially those by legends such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Louise Bogan. But please bring any poetry you’d like to!
Yes, we’d like you to forward this invitation to everyone you know. Now.
Wednesday, January 5 at 12PM
(intersection of Congress Street and State Street in Portland)
Because we owe the poets. Really.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-228-8263
Monday, January 3, 2011
The Blackbird's SongMilly JourdainAmong the mists of dawn the blackbird singsOf rivers running through the fieldsAnd all the fresh young smell of growing things.He tells of primroses in copses bareOr clustered on the lonely banksBreathing a finer fragrance in the air;Of lilac blossom falling on the ground,Of little winds and heavenly rain,And summer nights whose breathing is a sound.And when the light is spreading down belowHe flies away from listeners,Whose hearts he touched with what they do not know.
from The Pleasant Life in Newfoundland (1628)Robert HaymanTo a worthy Friend, who often objects [to] the coldnesse of the Winter in Newfound-Land, and may serve for all those who have the like conceit.You say that you would live in Newfound-land,Did not this one thing your conceit withstand;You feare the Winters cold, sharp, piercing ayre.They love it best, that have once wintered there.Winter is there, short, wholesome, constant, cleare,Not thicke, unwholesome, shuffling, as 'tis here.