Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Whitman and the Moth

The last 4 verses are so good. Its a poem by Clive James which I first heard him read tonight on the radio. Clive is not well.
Van Wyck Brooks tells us Whitman in old age
Sat by a pond in nothing but his hat,
Crowding his final notebooks page by page
With names of trees, birds, bugs and things like that.
The war could never break him, though he’d seen
Horrors in hospitals to chill the soul.
But now, preserved, the Union had turned mean:
Evangelizing greed was in control.
Good reason to despair, yet grief was purged
By tracing how creation reigned supreme.
A pupa cracked, a butterfly emerged:
America, still unfolding from its dream.
Sometimes he rose and waded in the pond,
Soothing his aching feet in the sweet mud.
A moth he knew, of which he had grown fond,
Perched on his hand as if to draw his blood.
But they were joined by what each couldn’t do,
The meeting point where great art comes to pass –
Whitman, who danced and sang but never flew,
The moth, which had not written Leaves of Grass,
Composed a picture of the interchange
Between the mind and all that it transcends
Yet must stay near. No, there was nothing strange
In how he put his hand out to make friends
With such a fragile creature, soft as dust.
Feeling the pond cool as the light grew dim,
He blessed new life, though it had only just
Arrived in time to see the end of him.


Anonymous sue h said...

I really loved this John, I do believe Whitman was enlightened.


9:57 pm  
Anonymous Beverly VanBuren said...

To Dream Again of Youth Beverly VanBuren
'Tis why the aging eye still bears a gleam
when cast upon the rosy cheeks and lips
pursed, bubbled with the milk of mother's breast
or tiny legs side saddled to her hips.

10:01 pm  
Anonymous see drum said...

enlightening. tis. Good to see John in the garden and at the keyboard.

may Spring last eternal.

10:21 pm  
Anonymous Tamara M said...

Oh to spend a moment in their company.

Thank you for sharing this.



10:47 pm  
Anonymous Virgilio Gavia said...

many insightful things happen when the heart and the head intersect...Whitman created soulful poetry.

10:51 pm  
Anonymous Beverly VanBuren said...

Spring defines eternal
renewal at its best
all that once lay sleeping
wakens, stands the test.
even cut or cindered
shoots regain their ground
tenacious, just like ivy
even crevice bound.

10:58 pm  
Anonymous John Pendrey said...

I've just arrived to see so many comments. You are like Spring blooms but I must be away to the garden. Thank you all. back soon.

8:51 am  
Anonymous Beverly VanBuren said...

Some of my favorite gardens are seaside and perennial. I used to love the poppies, columbine, irises and day lilies. I have a flower that grows beside my walk light that I haven't been able to identify. It is as short as new spring grass. It has leaves like crocuses but the blossoms have six narrow blue petals with a slightly deep white throat and tongue of yellow stamen. Fully opened, it isn't larger than a quarter. It grows before the lawn is mowed in April but after the crocuses fade.

12:28 pm  
Anonymous Tamara M said...

"away to the garden"


8:16 pm  

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