Saturday, April 11, 2009

Poetry Month -- a Poet Contemplates

[Picture is Hathaway's Pond on Cape Cod where Rachel and I sometimes walk the dog.]

April is National Poetry Month and I have been reading not only poetry but also about poetry. A good stretch for the mind. Also I have traveled a great deal, not only to the famous cities and a few posh places [very few] but to the empty, or nearly eempty, places, behind the Annapurnas, into the steppes of Mongolia, into the Gobi and Sahara ... I do not believe anyone has a bone deep sense of how big the world is without having seen some of its vastness. I read so much that doesn't take into account how big the world is, and how various written by people who do not know how narrow their field of vision is. Earth Day is coming, perhaps this shuold have been saved for then.

I discovered this note from Wallace Steven's notebook and was happily surprised to find the straight laced Yankee insurance exec had a truly wide perspective there in Hartford, Connecticut -- some people have the imagination and humility to look far and wide. I wish more had that ability. Ponder what Stevens wrote -- "I thought, on the train, how utterly we have forsaken the Earth, in the sense of excluding it from our thoughts. There are but few who consider its physical hugeness, its rough enormity. It is still a disparate monstrosity full of solitudes + barrens + wilds. It still dwarfs + terrifies + crushes. The rivers still roar, the mountains still crash, the winds still shatter. Man is an affair of cities. His gardens + orchards + fields are mere scrapings. Somehow however, he has managed to shut out the face of the giant from his windows. But the giant is there, nevertheless."

This struck a chord and I've read it over a number of times. This is the mind of a poet who did not "look" like a poet in his every day pursuits. But few others think this broadly. Perspective is the point. So much individual misery is the result of not being able to see beyond the tip of one's nose.

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