Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

News from the Nest

M. IN HER BURROW

Lately I have been: very busy; excessively busy; even ridiculously busy. Today was an elevenses day, an important birthday, and in less than a month I shall be buried by much in the way of graduation frolics. Overnight company to the tune of twelve... So I have been chopping and hoeing my yard and drudging and scrubbing my nest in order not to be shamed at various set-at-home events. I long for a gardener and a maid, but I long in vain. If you would like to be my gardener and maid, please inform me by the nearest fast-flying kestrel or any other winged thing—even a grackle would be acceptable.

Thank you for not abandoning me in the midst of my toils, all you note-leavers and email-senders and wafters-by… I have stayed in my burrow and worked, and I have not gone visiting or been much in evidence. Perhaps that is the way things should be. I’m not sure. I’m still thinking about it.

One of the reasons I have been busy is that I paused in the writing of stories and immediately was swept away by a spring spate of poems that has lasted for a pleasing-and-unusual length of time. They are very green, full of leaves and blossomings and mystery and muse. Much form, much narrative, much of a muchness…

Meanwhile I have read several rather stupid books, alas. I seem to have been reading the wrong novels. But I have also been reading Yeats and Charles Causley again, as well as some medieval and Anglo-Saxon poems. Most are re-reads, but I have also read the Robin Hood poems for the first time. It’s hard to say how old they are, as most of the existing copies seem to be rather late. X
BY HEART
x
June-bug resolution: memorize or revive the memory of one poem per week. We’ll see how long that lasts! This week: re-learned “Margaret, are you grieving.”

FROM KEANE, YEATS’S INTERACTIONS WITH TRADITION

Yeats and Blake

For Yeats, who agreed with his mentor Blake that “the thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest,” “works of art are always begotten by previous works of art” and “supreme art is a traditional statement of heroic and religious truths passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned.”

Nietzsche

In the “arts just as in ethics . . . all there is or has been on earth of freedom” and “masterly sureness” has developed only because of sustained “obedience” to what the undisciplined resent as “the tyranny . . . of capricious laws.”

The “most natural” state of the artist, “giving form in the moment of inspiration,” is “far from any letting himself go”; strictly and subtly” the artist “obeys thousandfold laws precisely then.”

Nietzsche and Yeats

This paradoxical fusion of autonomy and obedience, of gaiety under self-imposed constraint, is shared by Yeats, who eschews “free verse” in favor of those “traditional meters . . . I compel myself to accept” and without which “I would lose myself, become joyless” (E&I 522).

PHOTOGRAPH courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/ and Crystal Leigh Shearin of Rocky Mount, North Carolina--a place where I once accidentally left all my nice new clothes in a hotel closet. I remember being a little girl and waking up on the train and seeing a neon sign for Rocky Mount and being happy because I was back home in the South and on my way to see my Aunt Sara in Savannah.

14 comments:

  1. Hi Marly! Happy to see you resurface, if only to bemoan your busy-ness, and yes you do indeed seem busy, not just happily occupied by art, but up to your neck in life, as one must be with a house full of children.
    Is your daughter graduating? Jeremy will also graduate, next week, and then go to work at the high school, performing as a paid employee much of what he has been doing as a volunteer in the special ed program there.
    He will start community college in their disabled student program in the fall, with any luck. He is dragging his feet infuriatingly, but is probably scared shitless. I know I am rather nervous about the whole thing.
    Go visit my blog. I need your wisdom so I can pass it along to my tiny creative writing workshop, which has dwindled from an original 20 to about 12, after they saw the syllabus and heard my requirements.

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  2. Lovely to see you resuming nesting. Or revealing nesting. I would love to be your gardener, if I could dart over between my other duties. I bet those poems are stunning.
    June 1 is my mother's birthday. Important in my life too.

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  3. Thought nobody would leave me a note, I've been gone so long--but here are two California poets, one a teacher and one a bookstore owner.

    Robinka,

    I shall come by during the school day... But I probably am no wiser than you are.

    No, it's B., the eldest. You've probably got the order muddled, it has been so long since we've had an in-the-flesh encounter.

    Good for Jeremy! That sounds like an interesting plan--and it is the duty of all teenage boys to be infuriating at times, so worry not.

    jarvenpa,

    That was 2:00 a.m. after the party on the 31st... But happy memories of your mother for today!

    I haven't had much time to revise as yet. We shall see. I gave a couple to "Mezzo Cammin" (coming out next week, I believe) and one to "Books & Culture," and there's one forthcoming at "qarrtsiluni," but many of them need some burnishing.

    Yes, I do wish you were an east-coaster rather than a west-coaster. We'd have a good time yacking about poems when you weren't busy gardening! I spent most of the day de-thatching the rest of the grass and planting and transplanting. Probably I will do all this work, and then it will rain for graduation day...

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  4. No I hadn't mixed up the order. But I know Ben is older than Jeremy, so I thought maybe he had taken a year off after graduating last year and was only applying now for colleges. And somehow I thought your daughter would move quickly through school. Girls frequently do so much better at it than boys do.
    I wish you would visit California. We could have a wonderful time nattering on and visiting ethnic restaurants.
    Let me know when your poems come out. I have one coming out in qarrsiluni too. It's time I sent to some other places as well, I guess. But now I am beginning to write narrative as well, just beginning, so it will be awhile before I can send anything anywhere but to friends.

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  5. i do miss you when you are away
    but i also understand.
    The family comes first, as it should.
    Creating has it's needs, and blogging friendships can get in the way, that's for sure...let's face it...any relationship can impinge on our ability to hear, let alone follow the muse.
    It's why i marvel at married (or attached) family women who create just that much more than men...because relationships and domesticity have always been part of the juggling act. It's why lots of money or an incredibly handy mate is a very good thing for those who have the need to create...to pay the maid and gardener to tend and care when we are absorbed.

    Take care Marly...i'm selfish enough to hope you always find some time for sharing here...but...it's ok, too...i'll know if you don't that you are carrying on with other good life stuff.

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  6. zephyr,

    Well, I am the maid and the gardener, but I have a husband who cooks, and that is good. For a while I had somebody who cleaned once or twice a week, but it really slashed into my writing time--too many questions, too much talking, too much me-helping!

    I'll try to keep up, but I am in a very busy part of my life, it seems. But I'll surface, even if I'm holding my breath longer and longer!

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  7. Speaking of mermaids, bronze or otherwise...perhaps one should only come up for a look-see when one wishes, and then vanish below again. I'll wait for you to surface, trusting you have plentiful air in the depths of creativity.

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  8. Oh...don't hold your breath....breeeeeath...in and out.

    and yes...having a mate who can cook good things is a great blessing. Particularly when swarms of relatives are expected.

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  9. I love memorizing poetry. I suprised Mike with a little She Walks in Beauty because it just happens to be the word go along blurb to our June calender and he said do you know all that kind of stuff, and it made me very mysterious!

    so glad you suprised us with a post

    It sounds like you are busy and thats a good thing. I too have been throwing things out and cleaning,


    wish I had something cooler to say, but on my friends page there is one called except in dreams, and who ever does it posts a different poem most days. ITs like getting a suprise easter egg

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  10. Greetings to Amanda, zephyr, and Susanna--

    I shall attempt to grow gills! I do hope it rains so that I don't have to water the grass seed... Much chopping of that infernal plant, Bishop's weed, and much scrubbing in the list for today. And I'll be writing a bit as well.

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  11. Marly. it was great to read what you've been up to.
    You're busy but all sounds productive and happy and focused with writing and family and YOU.

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  12. Lovely surprise! Two months is a long time gone, but there are these things called feeds, so we know when you resurface!

    Keep on bobbing along...

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  13. Hi Jan, Hi Lucy--

    So nice to "hear" your voices. I'm a social being and realize that what I do miss when I don't blog is these little contacts with people from close by and over the sea--and now and then meeting new ones here and there.

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  14. So nice to see you back here. I understand busy-ness, completely!

    It's a beautiful nest.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.