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

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter gratitudes

Freezing dusk is closing
   Like a slow trap of steel
On trees and roads and hills and all
   That can no longer feel.
     But the carp is in its dept
        Like a planet in its heaven
     And the badger in its bedding
        Like a loaf in the oven.
     And the butterfly in its mummy
        Like a viol in its case.
      And the owl in its feathers
        Like a doll in its lace.
                --Ted Hughes, from "The Warm and the Cold" (Collected Poems, p. 343)

It's -15 at a little after nine in the morning; when I woke, I found the pipes were frozen, so it has been a morning of rousting children to help while getting another child off to school. I seldom bother to use a dryer on my hair, but they're quite handy with pipes. Water is again flowing, and I am feeling glad and grateful not to have a houseful of plumbers this morning. And I also see that, after more than two weeks of that scourge, the flu, I really am going to get well. And for that I am even more grateful. Yankee winters are a bit of a trial if you're not raised to them, and so I shall stay home longer and write and do some cleaning (because an old house with five residents takes a lot of ordering and scrubbing) and let the world tick on without me. Outside a flock of birds is settled in a ravel of rose canes, one or two or three darting out to the feeder and then flitting back, fleeing deep in the canes to hide from the kestrel who regards our yard as territory. So it goes on planet Earth on a wintry morning. Good cheer to you, world!

Thanks to all the people who wrote notes or left comments on the prior post or elsewhere about the poem in answer to an inaugural challenge. To write such a thing is to reply to a very particular sort of dare, with demands set by the form, but also mediated by one's concerns about the country--in my case, I was thinking of a particular distress I feel for the chasm that has now been set between the two major parties and their adherents, so that there is a lot of voiced hatred and scorn for "the other." So it's a curious task.

4 comments:

  1. Very glad to read that you are mending. That was a verrry long haul. Bad bug, Bad bug!!
    It truly is the tiniest of things in this world that have the most power over us...to help save and/or undo.

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  2. Thank you, Miss Zephyr--

    Just woke from a nap after having some of that old remedy, chicken soup! Wish it were time for the spring zephyrs...

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  3. Greetings dear Marly, Hope you are completely well ASAP! It's 17 in at the mouth of Cape Cod, wind howling, and bone cold. Alas, I went to the P.O. anyway! That's a writer for you, huh? The cold of hell won't keep them out of the P.O. Take care, ESL

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  4. Thanks for the good wishes, and hope all is very well with you, Eileen. Stay out of the wind!

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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.