Rain in Northern California, where we always seem to be needing it, can be as delicious as this poem, which sounds contemporary though written a century ago.
All night our room was outer-walled with rain. Drops fell and flattened on the tin roof, And rang like little disks of metal. Ping!—Ping!—and there was not a pin-point of silence between them. The rain rattled and clashed, And the slats of the shutters danced and glittered. But to me the darkness was red-gold and crocus-colored With your brightness, And the words you whispered to me Sprang up and flamed—orange torches against the rain. Torches against the wall of cool, silver rain!
But here is a holiday poem–may it bring you a glee too fine to hear.
The hollybush flowers
small whites (become of
four tiny petals
back and four
anthers stuck out:
the pistil low &
wasp-bees (those small
bees) come around
with a glee too
fine to hear: when Continue reading →
I remember Frost’s fumbling at Kennedy’s inauguration–an old man then, and the first poet to be asked to read at such an event–such a different time. When asked to recite a poem, this was Frost’s response:
“If you can bear at your age the honor of being made president of the United States, I ought to be able at my age to bear the honor of taking some part in your inauguration. I may not be equal to it but I can accept it for my cause — the arts, poetry — now for the first time taken into the affairs of statesmen. … I am glad the invitation pleases your family. It will please my family to the fourth generation and my family of friends and, were they living, it would have pleased inordinately the kind of Grover Cleveland Democrats I had for parents.” Continue reading →
I have been reading Randall Jarrell’s “Fifty Years of American Poetry,” an impressive essay, but it made me somehow wonder if all the books–those hours and years of work–won’t someday be winnowed down to a few kept in the basement of the cybrary, with its lightspeed wifi. A few first editions the way we now have illuminated manuscripts. Who even reads most of these people now?
The essay contained a gorgeous quote from Isaac Babel “A phrase is born into the world good and bad at the same time. The secret lies in a slight, almost invisible twist. The lever should rest in your hand, getting warm, and you can turn it once, not twice.”
One of the few fears that can really grab hold of me, especially before a long plane ride or (as was currently the case) a time of enforced inactivity, is that I’ve read all the really good books. A book that is well-written, thought provoking, and can immerse you in its reality is so rare. During this recent period, I had very little that fit this description. So I opened a book I hadn’t read in 25 years, Particle and Luck, by Louis B. Jones. Would it hold up? It does, and has snared me in the life of Mark Perdue, the archetypal absentminded physicist and his quirky journey around the Marin and the Berkeley campus. Here are a few excerpts. Continue reading →
Talking around the table about the mixed message of Thanksgiving–my discomfort with the often phony-feeling professions of gratitude, and of course, what we did and do to native populations. A friend suggested that there should be a Jewish holiday– if there isn’t one already–called “Misgiving.”
But someone asked me what sincere gratitude would sound like. I think something like this:
Perhaps the World Ends Here
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.
Yesterday I posted Jordan Peterson’s rant on how he doesn’t believe the threat of climate change will bring us together to act for the good of the planet.
In response, my son sent this comic, which I also believe:
But to be fair, I don’t think Peterson was really saying, “do nothing,” I think he was just pointing out that we are a divisive race. There isn’t much evidence that we can join together to effect global change.