Thursday, August 23, 2007

this is that old dream i told you about, twenty years ago

You know, yesterday an odd thing happened. I was sitting at work, working my way through a quote database, listening to Badly Drawn Boy - whom I really actually love, but maybe especially One Plus One is One - and I felt content. Really good things happened yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. The rain made me feel mopey for a while, but yesterday. . . I actually loved my physical surroundings for the first time since Italy, I felt that there was something authentically worth looking at.

This weather reconciles me.

And I'll tell you something about this soft-edged world: when it rains, when it is overcast and misty and gray, when only the ground immediately touching my feet feels solid, I wonder if I could reach far enough so that my own outlines start to blur and fade into that mystery, that other-dimension, the place this spark on the green leaves comes from, where rain kisses my skin into sudden live awareness. Everything is mutable here.

I talked to Jenn a couple of days ago, and suddenly realized why I'm so attracted to humorous or quirky pieces of art. Wasn't it Tolstoy in Anna Karenina who said "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way"? Well, this is my thought (and it has almost nothing to do with his): everyone is serious in much the same ways, but everyone is funny in their own ways. So, wishing to develop my own little sort of brilliance so that I can be an artist someday, it's no wonder that I am attracted to humorous or quirky pieces of art, because humor is so individually dictated and brilliant in authentic, unexpected ways.

P.S. I saw Daniel Finch today! I love that man! I'm so excited he's teaching my advanced studies class. . . . Talking to him really is (as Susan Getty puts it) like drinking three cups of espresso.

I Am in Need of Music
Elizabeth Bishop

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream-flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

Black Rook in Rainy Weather
Sylvia Plath

On the stiff twig up there
Hunches a wet black rook
Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain-
I do not expect a miracle
Or an accident

To set the sight on fire
In my eye, nor seek
Any more in the desultory weather some design,
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall
Without ceremony, or portent.

Although, I admit, I desire,
Occasionally, some backtalk
From the mute sky, I can't honestly complain:
A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then --
Thus hallowing an interval
Otherwise inconsequent

By bestowing largesse, honor
One might say love. At any rate, I now walk
Wary (for it could happen
Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical
Yet politic, ignorant

Of whatever angel any choose to flare
Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality. With luck,
Trekking stubborn through this season
Of fatigue, I shall
Patch together a content

Of sorts. Miracles occur.
If you care to call those spasmodic
Tricks of radiance
Miracles. The wait's begun again,
The long wait for the angel,

For that rare, random descent.

2 comments:

lucy said...

ELIZABETH BISHOP! That's the name I was looking for! (Beautiful poems, the posted ones, by the way.) Especially welcome because I was talking about "One Art" yesterday in a teashop, and the poem about the rainbow trout, and the one about the cold sea, and the one about the Esso cans, and would you believe I could not remember the woman's NAME? I am ashamed.

Also, I should probably say "about" freedom, society's problems, alienation and loneliness, about the nature of love... because the poems aren't actually ABOUT the Esso cans, etc. Or are they, in some way? Thoughts and/or insights?

Love you!

lucy said...

p.s. It is Tolstoy in Anna Karenina. It's the first sentence, as a matter of fact. I was left confused by that book. Great novel, yes; great romance, no. At least, I didn't think so, but then, I'm still an idealist.