Monday, July 1, 2013

Maggie Schwed on “Pollen Season”

It was Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma that made me feel, eight years ago, that my love of farms didn’t have to starve itself by merely driving past the silos, beautiful patterned fields, broad barns, and rusting tractors of the Midwest, the West, and the Northeast. I’m not young. I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and will never have a farm. I do have a farmer friend, though, who let me work one summer fetching his cows from pasture, milking them, mucking his barn, feeding urns of whey to his pigs, and acquiring a beginner’s knowledge of how to make cheese. The commute to his farm was long and when I heard about another farm, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, only forty minutes north of the city, I began to work there, first in the fields and greenhouse, then with livestock. 

I keep a journal of my labor. I chronicle the pleasures of working outdoors in all weather, for long hours, often in awkward positions, using my eyes and hands. At the same time, a long practice of writing nature poems was making me wonder about the direction of my work. Farming was deepening my experience of the green world. But how could the writing of yet another nature poem, a genre often scorned as obvious, rear guard, and tepid, be progressive, at least for me? I knew the nature poem could still bring news (that is to say, we’ve forgotten a lot about grasses, animals, wind, insects). But all along, the venerable pastoral tradition notwithstanding, I felt the pressure of having to justify myself. 

Pollen Season” is one of a small group of poems in Driving to the Bees (Black Lawrence Press, June, 2014), that tries another approach to nature writing. Formally, it has almost the look of prose, with paragraph-like blocks for stanzas but, working extensively out loud, I found that I did want to preserve line breaks. Direct address brought warmth, a chance to speak intimately and colloquially (I’ve always loved Whitman for this). A semi-epistolary form appeared almost immediately; my journals and letters carried some of the voice I wanted, and I mined them. The voice needed to be pushy, urgent, trying to make contact, jumping from one thing to the next.

“Pollen Season” dictated its own order. The first stanza, moving through a kind of report on family matters, undergoes a shift with the first question: “Do you share with me. . . ?” Asking questions felt like a way to swerve the poem in close—What do you think? Don’t you agree? It increased my feeling that I was talking with someone and made it easier to keep talking. The writing of the poem began to feel like the movement of my own mind, the voice holding more of my personality than I was accustomed to. And that seemed oddly redemptive.

I have felt strongly how unable I am to write a political poem and with equal strength the imperative to do so. By asking about our decade-long, largely hidden war, I had begun to find a way to extend my reach. I could perhaps be in league with another farmer’s struggle to make something grow from destroyed ground, though watering a seed or tending a hive looks very different when done in the presence of war.

The second stanza I think of as an answer to my mother’s distress about killing (“What are you doing?”).  I wanted to make evisceration palpable, and to impress in the reader’s mind the beauty and interest of what I discovered inside of the bird. It was a taking of responsibility: this is my share in death. It’s a strange thing to claim slaughter as a skill. But it is one. The purpose of cultivation is harvest. Death is as robust as life. Again, asking questions helps me here to stay close to “you,” my “dear friend.”  

The fine editorial hand of Lee Sharkey and John Rosenwald helped me lift away a few bits that I thought expanded the world of the poem but that they helped me see restricted it, or moved it toward political rhetoric. The other risk of a more talked poem is a lack of economy, and again, they helped me avoid the hazard of blabbing.

So, is “Pollen Season” a nature poem? Not only, but that second stanza lets me know I’m still exploring the genre. Embracing a plurality of subjects is helping me pursue the nature poem with renewed confidence.

21 comments:

  1. Lately I've been rereading Willa Cather's "My Antonia," a novel about Nebraska farmers that Cather wrote while living in New York City. I think this is compelling: the way in which a writer can be immersed in a place even when she's physically divorced from it. I live in rural Maine and often write about it, yet I'm always aware that this is itself a danger. Writing requires separation as well as obsession. So I'm drawn to your poem and your discussion of it because, like the bees, you cross these borders.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. Cather is dear to me too. The move toward pastoral poetry, for me, has something to do with what pierces my imagination, unbidden, and returns to me. Cather’s fiction must be one of the reasons I feel that the act of giving language to rural sights and sounds, to landscape and labor matters. I’m a reader who lingers over description. Its intensity seems full of implication. The philosopher of language, Wittgenstein, commented that “every case of seeing is a case of seeing as” (I’m away from my books, so please excuse any imprecision). In other words, interpretation is embedded in what might at first seem a neutral gaze. Any act of seeing (witnessing) is redolent with non-objective reality. How close can we get to the thing itself? (And why would we want to?) But we do try to get close. When Cather observes the force field of Nebraska sky over a field of wheat, I get the sense it excites and troubles her – she doesn’t forget something that happened at the level of a sense impression, and it transforms into feeling, memory, and an aesthetic wallop. Perhaps, as you suggest, it’s essential to see and retreat, to be immersed and then apart. But there you are in Maine –finding a way to separate yourself from the bombardment of what you experience without leaving it. Wordsworth’s “recollection in tranquility”? I don’t have a remarkable memory; mine seems entirely wayward, and it’s disconcerting, what imposes itself on me for notice, as being the kind of detail that urges me to pursue it with language and rhythm, in hopes of a poem. No matter how much I might like to begin with an idea, it’s the physical world (with its metaphysical implications) that is often my prompt.

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    2. Virgil's Eclogues have been a strong influence on my own pastoral writings, and on my most recent rereading of "My Antonia" I realized that Cather, too, had turned to Virgil (the Georgics) as she created the world of the novel. I love your remark "she doesn't forget something that happened at the level of a sense impression." The aesthetic transformation of nostalgia (which is really a kind of unarticulated elegy, I think) into art requires us to remain patient, to stay attentive to our affections, "even to the dogs and donkeys," as George Eliot wrote in "Daniel Deronda." She, like Cather, never forgot those early sense impressions. (Sorry if all of this sounds disjointed, but I am thinking it out as I go along. It is really lovely to read your remarks about the way you've been finding your way into the pastoral. Thank you.)

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    3. Nostalgia! Now there’s a subject. I love what you say about it being a kind of unarticulated elegy, the feeling that comes before there’s a form for it. Poems (and many other things) can induce a nostalgia for something we never had, not only for something we’re losing or have lost. For me, nostalgia seems to be a sudden inward pause: this is precious! It can be cultivated. At the same time, although I am much gripped by it, perhaps nostalgia is the enemy. If I think of it as a kind of relished anguish (Blake’s “he who kisses the joy as it flies” variety), I feel the poems linked to that might be, if elegiac, also celebratory. The tarnish in nostalgia comes, for me, with the suspicion that doting on a lost past is sentimental, even though an article in the Science Times this week suggests nostalgia offers existential balm.

      Complex skills that we do by hand, animal husbandry, music – they are full of beautiful words and surprising elements of craft that are allusive. And something about the physical life involved in them seems to be a great part of their meaning. I once knew a baker who said if experience of the green world disappeared, we’d have poetry of the machine, and would find that sustaining. Maybe. Dressed for the office, sitting under fluorescent lights, facing our screens. Certainly we will always “see through” the literal. Don’t we also need plenty of the concrete? The world is losing languages and species and skills at an extraordinary rate. Does it matter if hands (brains) don’t know how to form letters, tie a knot, drum, carve, paint, butcher, weave, prune?

      I don’t share Christopher’s view that the farm is already a lost world, nor do I claim a person has to dig a hole to continue to have a connection to nature or to receive pleasure from it. He goes farther and says a poet doesn’t have to have a live experience in order to write about it, because she’s not really writing about nature in the first place but about what’s glimpseable behind or through it. While I like Proteus, I love the literal field of wheat. And I like zooming in. A tractor is a fine machine, but get closer: shovel. Closer: kneel. The green world in and of itself streams significance – it seems to me. And I find it interesting that if I read a poem about the modest antics of pigs down in the West Village of NYC, it rocks the room, not because of the politics/economics of food production, and certainly not because they are laughing in recognition of what they’ve always known about a pig. They’re laughing, I think, because they are surprised to recognize them. Sometimes, in words, I can “pig” them. If in that poem I can have a husband, a cell phone, some hints about marriage, and a turkey—even better. More to think about. The gods are welcome too. But what you say, Dawn, about patience for the transformation of the nostalgic/elegiac is essential. My beloved “literal” requires both preservation and transformation.

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    4. Your pig story makes me laugh. Last time I read in NYC, I chose a poem called "The Skillet Toss," which is a common event at rural Maine fairs. All the competitors are women, and what they do is throw frying pans. The winners tend to be strong, sturdy, 40-ish married women. The NYC audience was entirely taken aback by what to them seemed so foreign, comic, reactionary. Yet it's also a strangely beautiful situation--husbands admiring the regular, everyday strength of their middle-aged wives. When I read that poem up here, nobody thinks twice about the situation. So I can never decide which audience is more peculiar: those who are surprised, or those who don't see why I'd bother writing about such a thing. Perhaps your pig poem rides a similar line. Perhaps that line is as unnerving for the poet as it is for the listener.

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  2. Well, the terrible moment for me in all this arrived when Bob Dylan went electric. Up to that point we city-billies didn’t plug in at all, indeed everybody was a ‘farmer’ as well as a ‘painter,’ had a compost pile somewhere, or a hive of bees, or a cow in the garage which we called ‘the barn.’ The New Lost City Ramblers were all nice Jewish boys from the Four Buroughs, and Pete Seeger our communist was from a patrician academic family, Joan Baez from Stanford drinking coffee with us in Harvard Square, and Ralph Rinzler from a very similar background to the Zimmermans but New Jersey. Ralph was that very gifted, polyglot folk singer and musicologist who ‘discovered’ the Carter family, looked after Woodie Guthrie, dragged Bill Monroe to New England and then on to Europe (much against his will – he hated it!), and eventually brought Doc Watson to Cambridge while I was there which for me was more exciting than the Beatles first gig in the Regent’s Street cinema (I’d never heard of them)! Indeed, right from the start we were all a bit of a con – nobody was really down on the farm, just wearing a torn work-shirt as if, and like ‘organic’ today, or ‘wellness,’ the simple life came with a nice apartment, an education, and a price.

    A lot of the shock of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” before WWI, don't forget, and even “The Wasteland” right after, was because the urban imagery came long before the city-billy movement had arisen within it. Of course Eliot wasn’t the first to constellate the “unreal city,” but the contrast has historically never been more stark.

    You don’t need to be working on the farm, on the railroad or in the factory to be Carl Sandburg or Philip Levine, and I suspect “My Antonia” would never have been written if Willa Cather had stayed in Nebraska. Ditto the Battle of Borodino, or indeed almost any incomparable detail of the good-life and/or terrible injury in War and Peace. And I suspect that most of the nature poets in Maine are transplants as well, even if they dress and behave like Tolstoy.

    And there you are, Maggie Schwed and Dawn Potter, doing your wonderful stuff in the woods, one down on the farm in Harmony, the other high up on the Upper Westside, both trying to come to terms with it.

    I thank you both for your commitment and eloquence, but you don’t have to protest so much. Nobody brought up truly in nature has any awareness of it, ever. As I suggested before in the Long Poem thread, before you've got anything worthwhile, a sense of loss and worshipful longing for it has to be there.

    Christopher

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    1. Hello Christopher – I’m less certain of rules than you. A sense of belonging, discovery, or wonder might be as compelling as a sense of loss or worshipful longing. What about praise instead of elegy or nostalgia? I’m not sure who could be raised in nature so entirely that nature itself was unremarkable—though I certainly agree she might not see the poetry in it. No doubt, Virgil, the writers of Psalms, Thomas Hardy, and the myriad pastoral poets of our day are sophisticated. John Clare, born to the farm and labor, read other poets, knew London. Thoreau and his pond – the willful isolation was fine, as long as he could pop to town for an elegant dinner and discourse. Nature poets are hypocrites! Or no, Romantics, dependent on the creative friction offered by living in Manhattan, for example, and commuting to the farm. But can there be a non-Romantic way of doing the work of the farm and writing non-Romantic poems born from it? Instead of masking the city or idealizing the country, let them jostle/snuggle against each other. I’m just always curious about what a nature poem brings to the table. A cow in every garage! (A coop behind every brownstone in Williamsburg…) This will hardly do. More Wendell Berry’s wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’ll write again, to your second post – but not until later in the week (busy farming!).

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    2. I find it very confusing that this whole thread seems to be caught in a 'reply,' but there we are.

      ~


      The following are metaphors, Maggie – I’ve been thinking about the whole issue of ‘loss’ in relation to being 'human' for some time, and I hope what I say may be helpful.

      1.) It’s a rare child who feels the delight of being a child during childhood, even the lightness of the skip being just how you happen to move as a child. Most of the time it’s about what you have to do and what you aren’t allowed to do as well as about the table, things under the bed, bullies, poison ivy, and wanting to grow up faster in order to stay up later and be big. It’s only when childhood has been lost that it becomes an ideal – indeed, it’s we grown-ups who understand the difference between childlike and childish, not children, which is why we discipline the latter so fiercely. That’s the way undisciplined children behave most of the time, after all, as they did at Summerhill, and why A.S.Neill turned out to be wrong.

      Childhood is what we discover when we’ve lost it. And that leads into the greatest of all human ironies -- if we’ve really made something out of our lives we may become it again before we die!

      2.) It’s a rare Third World farmer who doesn’t welcome the magical sprays and powders that make things grow so much taller and faster. The big chemical conglomerates know this very well, and of course they hook the developing-world farmer on pesticides and chemical fertilizers by simply giving them away at the beginning. And then it’s too late, because what developing farmer who is just scraping a living from his patch is going to go back to the expense of organic just to be purer again? Unless of course there are people who are willing to pay twice as much for an organic lettuce as they do in the U.S.A. and the richer parts of Europe.

      3.) In Thailand breast-feeding was rare when I first arrived here in the mid '90s because the big food conglomerates said powdered milk would make your baby’s brain bigger and skin whiter. Almost everywhere the message that breast-feeding is primitive has become an assumption among the world’s poor, because no peasant-women wants to be seen as a hill-billy, even back on the farm.

      4.) All the organic farming movements have been initiated off the farm, not on it. Rudolf Steiner, Lewis Mumford, and Rachel Carson all came from comfortable, scientific, bourgeois backgrounds as did my mother (b. 1903, educated at Milton and in France) who pioneered watershed protection, tree planting, and litter awareness on the Upper Raritan in New Jersey back in the 40s. Indeed, one of my earliest environmental memories is of my mother pointing out to me how the verges of the brand new Merritt Parkway were covered in litter. That would have been in 1947 or 48 – I didn’t see the likes of that again until I got to Thailand!

      5.) This is the deepest and the hardest of my metaphors – what the Buddha taught about meditation.

      If you can just see how all things, including states of mind, thoughts, feelings, and of course suffering arise you will understand that everything without exception is impermanent – and if you become really good at seeing that you won’t hold on to things so much anymore. But that’s easier said than done, the Buddha explains in great detail, because the faculty you must use to ‘see’ the phenomenon is itself thought, so you are being asked to use thinking to stop thinking and thus put an end to it all. Which is foolish, obviously. Indeed, meditation is like a shoe, the Buddha says – you wear it and wear it and wear it until one day your foot touches the ground.

      That’s a hard thought, and Buddhist philosophers are wrestling with it everywhere from the Potala Palace to the University of Heidelberg. But the ultimate message is always the same, that for a human being true simplicity is complicated, just as being truly natural requires an awful lot of education and refinement first.

      6.) My final metaphor, and the deepest. Poetry.

      Christopher

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  3. Forgive me if you read that as too hard, Maggie -- mainly it's just being hard on myself.

    "Back out of all this now too much for us," says Robert Frost responding quite specifically to a world that is "too much with us."

    It seems to me that what Wordsworth is saying is not really about Nature at all, but about what we human beings can’t "see" in Nature, regardless of who we are. "Little we see in Nature that is ours," that's what he says, "that is ours, not not ours!

    So in the end that's not about the smell of fresh cut hay, or the sweat of hard work, or the cow at 6am in the barn, forehead pressed into the great flank as we strip the last milk from the udder. It's not specifically about Nature like that at all. It's about having "glimpses" of something way beyond that, something that could actually make even the most intelligent and sensitive of human beings feel "less forlorn.” And the image in Wordsworth’s poem is specifically of Proteus rising from the sea, not just of the literal golden waves of wheat in Nebraska.

    So what does that mean? -- that’s what I meant.

    We’re too far along to be farmers anymore, I’d say, even if we are. Farmers are important, goodness knows, and lucky the few of us that still are, but what is missing is way beyond that, farmers or not.

    “I read obsessively about the farmers,” you write. “Do you share with me this sense, that as ground warms the world fills again with soldiers? And how strange it is our own are hidden?”

    Precisely.

    Christopher

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    1. Thanks for the good reply above, Maggie -- and I'll do some thinking about it, I promise.

      Just to say that I should have written "We're too far along to be just farmers." I'm a farmer myself, to tell you the truth, a gardener and compost-maker, and I think it's as good a thing to be as any. But you don't have to look like a farmer to be in touch with nature, that was my point -- too look like one or even to live in the country. Nor do you have to be romantic about farming to respect it as a livelihood, any more than Philip Levine has to be romantic about factory work, which is just as hard as real farming, I'd say. Indeed, both are as full of terrible ambiguities as your "happy cannibal" at the end of the poem. Or just "pollen season," for that matter -- an eye "red and suppurating like a gorgon’s!"

      Christopher

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  4. "Nobody brought up truly in nature has any awareness of it, ever."
    -- Christopher Woodman, July 5, 2013

    That is an absurd stance. For openers consider: Les Murray, Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon.

    Dave Steward

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  5. The depth of a dent in the flank of your grandfather's cow
    from his having leaned his brow
    against it morning and night

    for twenty years of milking by hand
    gave but little sense of how distant is the land
    on which you had us set our sights.


    Paul Muldoon

    ~

    The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
    Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
    Through living roots awaken in my head.
    But I've no spade to follow men like them.

    Between my finger and my thumb
    The squat pen rests.
    I'll dig with it.


    Seamus Heaney

    ~

    And many weep for sheer acceptance, and more

    refuse to weep for fear of all acceptance,

    but the weeping man, like the earth, requires nothing,

    the man who weeps ignores us, and cries out

    of his writhen face and ordinary body
    


    not words, but grief, not messages, but sorrow,

    hard as the earth, sheer, present as the sea -

    and when he stops, he simply walks between us

    mopping his face with the dignity of one

    man who has wept, and now has finished weeping.


    Les Murray


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    1. All three great poets brought up on or in the environs of small farms.

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  6. It's foolish of me to be making such pat statements, D.E, of course it is, but I'm replying to assumptions about 'nature' and 'experience' that are equally foolish. Human beings can't 'know' anything at all without separating themselves from it first -- that's all I meant. And I think my 3 quotes beautifully illustrate that, as does "Pollen Season" in it's curious structure and complexities.

    There's one more metaphor I'd like to add to my list at this point: Original Sin. The fact is that you can't know Paradise until you've eaten the Apple, even if a.) you're already in it and b.)God says you mustn't. "O blessėd fault and sacred sin of Adam," says the priest in the Mass, acknowledging that the gift that makes us human is what also separates us from God -- an irony that must surely have been part of the Original Plan unless God simply messed up.

    Metaphorically speaking.

    Christopher

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  7. Hi Christopher – I appreciate Dave’s remark about poets brought up in/around nature who do have awareness of it. I love the passages you found (and thanks for giving me a chance to get acquainted with poems by Les Murray), though again, they didn’t seem to prove your statement, no matter how moving they are in and of themselves. It has made me wonder for some days about whether we do have to separate or be apart from or lose something in order to have awareness of it. The list of metaphors strikes me as a list of arguments, at least 1-4. Not sure what you mean by metaphor here.

    You seemed to have worked out, for yourself, what I might call a poetics of loss, with a sense that our condition is forlorn and poetry a possible consolation for something that is fundamentally missing. For myself, I’m not sure how much there is to know about paradise. And I’m not sure how much loss generates my own work. A mystic state, paradise was never ours. Its nature is static, not dynamic or changeable. For Milton, the only word uttered there was hosanna (shortest poem of praise ever – not his cup of tea). For Odysseus, 7 idyllic years of satiation with Calypso precisely didn’t satisfy. You could even say that in the Garden of Eden, all that the serpent does, is introduce the catastrophic question mark, repeating Eve’s platitudes about what she’s allowed to do, with an interrogative tone, thus introducing the dangerous possibility of another way of looking at things. (Iago does something similar to Othello.) I want to say, of course it’s a felix culpa. Not loss but gain.

    It’s not about one’s head pressed against a cow’s flank? I’m sometimes driven by “no ideas but in things.” If I can render vividly enough that thing, I almost believe that it will inevitably give a glimpse of…something. Meaning. But often it comes through the concrete, doesn’t it? We can Google pretty much whatever we need for our research, but will we know how hot the guts of the chicken are in the hand? And how suggestive of life that is? There is stuff that belongs to the peculiar experience itself.

    How good is it, like one of the women in Dawn’s poem, to fling that skillet? So good!

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    1. Hi Dawn-- Being confronted in good and earnest by an other probably is both unnerving and fascinating. The audience for whom the skillet toss is unremarkable (I love your description of the curious beauty in the husbands watching “the regular, everyday strength of their middle-aged wives”)and that wonders why you’d write about such a thing, is funny in a way I particularly care about. Soon, I’ll read my farm poems soon to a group of farmers, which makes my heart beat faster. I am wondering whether they will be like your Maine audience. Do you feel the men and women of Maine help set a high standard as you write, just as I take great care before farmers? The comical, the beautiful, the ordinary, and the remarkable co-exist vitally in your description, which must be why both audiences give you their assent, if differently – and, again from your description, it must be because you are riding that edge that is poetry...holding a thing up, turning it, letting light shine through it in various ways, being surprised by it. I have the sense of "doing it justice."

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    2. I do take great care when I read in front of my neighbors . . . not that this happens too often. Mostly I am shyer than I should be. I assume they won't want to hear, and I know this is unfair to all concerned . . . because one of the guys in my band diffidently asked if he could have a copy of my book. He's a construction worker, and it turns out that he has been reading one poem from the book every night, puzzling them out to himself so that he can tell me what he thinks about them during band practice each week.

      I cried. But you know the farmers will understand about the chicken and entrails image--that it's both horrible and full of a zest for life and completely hilarious. Make sure you read "Pollen Season" to them.

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    3. That's what I meant too, Maggie -- flinging the skillet. Which is something any cook can do but which is definitely not about cooking, anymore than tossing the caber is about logging or the hammer about carpentry.

      I also never said our condition was forlorn, and indeed I would say I was concerned not with a poetics of loss but a poetics of discovery on a peak in Darien -- which is to say not about the Pacific Ocean or even about Homer.

      I also said what I said was not only "pat" but "foolish" -- and I'd say that what you say is just as sensible as what I say, and a whole lot more comprehensible.

      Finally, I'd be reluctant to read any modern poetry to farmers, which I think would usually be unkind. On the other hand, if there's a farmer in your band you should go for it, particularly if your band is called "String Field Theory."

      Because today we're more than ever all in this ballgame together.

      Christopher

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  8. Let’s say I would very much like it to be a “poetics of discovery” – but to be honest it’s more like Philip Larkin’s “awkward reverence” in “Church Going.” I too take off my hat when I visit a farm or a temple, and then I just stand there like he does at the very end of the poem.

    But superstition, like belief, must die,
    Power of some sort or other will go on
    In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
    But superstition, like belief, must die,
    And what remains when disbelief is gone?

    ..............................Philip Larkin, Church Going (1954)

    That’s a very special moment for poets today, indeed as special as what Keats felt “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer,” I'd say. Because “belief” is gone now even if “power of some sort” remains in our imagery, the myths we use, for example, the ancient approximations, the verbal echoes, the attempts at old forms and reflections. But there’s no Proteus rising from the sea anymore at all -- unless we’re on something.

    What remains “when disbelief is gone” is the preoccupation of the poets I most admire today from Robert Frost to Jean Valentine. And I’ll go even further than that – if a poet doesn’t push me up against that question I’m not really interested.

    Here’s another metaphor. The well-known American theologian, Elaine Pagels, wrote a book called Beyond Belief after her young son died of pulmonary hypertension. She had prayed and prayed and prayed and still he died, and her “belief,” in Philip Larkin’s sense, was exhausted in the process. Yet Elaine Pagels is still “church going,” in a sense, and although she doesn’t say what it is she has found to sustain her, she’s down on her knees even before a God that’s dead.

    Which is a poet's exaltation, I’d say – our sort of rapture.

    Isn’t that what you mean too, Maggie, and what you’re doing on the farm? And isn’t that what Dawn Potter is doing when she’s baking a pie or writing about Phaeton? Theology?

    Christopher

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  9. We've only got a few days left again, so why are we all so shy?

    Some may say I'm presumptuous, which of course I am. But why not try? Just to be polite, or give others space? With only a few days left, I mean, what is more with just a few years?

    ~

    What remains is preposterous, of course, like the growing conviction among physicists that our 'Big Bang' is just one of countless billions of much larger Big Bangs, our whole universe being but a ripple on the outermost edge of existence. But the irony is that our spatial inconsequence is what makes our pies and poetic inventions here on earth so potently, irresistibly, monumentally significant. They’re so much bigger than all that bothersome spacetime, for one thing, and so utterly beyond both natural science and belief.

    "So which do we love, dear friend, death or life?” asks Maggie Schwed in “Pollen Season.” And see Heather Dobbins last month for more "In the Low Houses."

    Why, a poet can say anything, and even more so a good poet everything!

    C.

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