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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tide, Time and Poetry





Like all humans, I contain several tablespoons of salt. It is a ratio I share with seawater because both are made of things found on earth. Earth, in turn, was assembled by electric and gravitational attractions that various compounds exert upon one another. Throughout these compilations there remain attachments to forces shifting among the stars. Like sound aimed at a microphone, they stir oceans and make them speak. We hear it on the shore when currents collide into waves. We hear it when wind scrapes treetops. We hear it in our brains when we are very sleepy. Here is a little poem about that:

The ocean is always
In you and in me,
Where gravity dreams,
Fictitious forces swirl,
Marmoreal seams pitch
Into air.
What is too far
And ancient to see
Can at least be
Heard there.

Let's see what rolls out of the waves, shall we?

Certainly technology-heavy genres have their distances and drawbacks. Although forms of considerable poetic sophistication, Heavy Metal and Rap always sound like tantrums to me --a parent shouting its wit's short end, a child stomping off, heart beating over foetal head. When the beat stops I expect to hear: NOW GO TO YOUR ROOM!!; a bottle opening; a door slamming. But that too is part of the poetry of our time, the rhythm of waves. We ignore it at our peril. I'd never been an avid e.e. cummings fan either, but discovering "i sing of Olaf" in 1968 impelled me to leave no authority unexamined and saved my life.

Next wave: 1969.  I drove a hop truck in the late summer harvest. When possible, I'd stop for lunch at Flora's place. She had a poster there of a Robert Frost quote, "Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee, and I'll forgive Thy great big one on me." Flora was a retired school teacher who knew poetry and I was a hick who needed to know more. Reciprocity opens minds and working hops without it was just hot and hard. I kept learning poetry.

I could go on anecdotally about how poetry redirected me in positive ways, but these two successive waves suffice. Thought is a very random enterprise, like the vast universe that sets it up and sends sunlight to fuel it. It also furnishes an ocean in our heads, portable oceans, which cuts down driving considerably. I am reminded of the old Masefield poem, which I learned over a half-century ago but can still garble from memory:

"I must go down to the sea again, to the Coney Island sand,
And all I ask is a traffic jam backed up to Disneyland..."

John Masefield, if I remember with my usual degree of accuracy, was a writer for Mad Magazine in 1960 who eventually became British Poet-Laureate in 1930.

I am still a hick.


27 comments:

  1. Hicks are in touch with mother earth and know things about seeing and hearing life.
    A case in point, your sensitivity to the sea. I think the roar of the sea is the voice print of this planet. It is the oldest sound on this sphere and it is our constant song to the cosmos.
    Thanks for sharing your poetry. Cheers to Flora!

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    1. Yes, a voice print changing constantly, articulating tremendous operations of interplanetary gravitation --a song of constant motion.

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  2. Hi Geo - I definitely need some input for poetry and a number of other disciplines ... and I hope I'll find these in the coming years - being amongst the blogging world I do come across posts that get me thinking - as here ... and I enjoy and appreciate the thoughts expressed. Poor old Masefield ... Flora sounds the kind of person I need to find ... I'm sure I will ...

    I thoroughly enjoyed this and your thoughts ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks,Hilary. My hope was always to spend my retirement among good minds and blogging has certainly answered admirably. We get to learn so much. Flora lived a long and interesting life --I shall never forget her.

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  3. The word 'hick' appears to carry certain derogatory, bumpkinish undertones. I have to say that, based on your ever-enjoyable posts, such undertones are by no means justified.

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    1. Thanks, Tom, but when I write Masefield started a career in 1960 and finished it 30 years earlier, it means I'm at least a bit backwards.

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  4. 1. not a hick
    2. had to look up marmoreal
    3. beautiful poem. The planet and we upon it are made of the same elements. We are all stardust.
    I must go down to the sea, I said
    Where the water rolls and reflects the red
    Of a setting sun as it goes to bed
    And, beyond my sight
    Rises up to end the night
    On the other side of time.

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    1. Delores, I love what you've done with "Sea Fever"! But I'll put the opening stanza here in tribute to Masefield:
      "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
      And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
      And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
      And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,"

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  5. A poet sees and feels what others ignore or pass by. Their words often awaken the consciousness of society and can sooth a heavy heart. We learn about life from the lines and verses of gifted poets from the time we are in a cradle.
    "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
    Dr. Seuss

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    1. Beautiful Arleen, Dr Seuss was the unofficial poet-laureate of our generation. I don't recall who was the official one but Mr. Geisel was --is-- the real one.

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  6. 'There are holes in the sky where the rain gets in,
    but they are ever so small which is why rain is thin.' = Spike Milligan

    Thank you for your mental perambulations which have trickled through the holes in my head to my brain.

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    1. My pleasure and privilege, and I delight also in Milligan.

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  7. We are all drawn to bodies of water. I feel a sense of peace and oneness with the universe just standing on the shore of a river. You are wise to recognize that our world keeps evolving. We must accept the changes gracefully. We can hold to the things we cherish and embrace the new.

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    1. You're right, Emma. In few other places is the sense of living earth more gently apparent than in the sound and feel of flowing water

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  8. There is something, isn't there, to all this sound?

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    1. Oh yes. I think it is the universe communicating with the cosmos in our minds.

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  9. I love how your mind has many threads spinning around a particular topic... i love the sea and the sound of waves (but any flowing water will do)

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    1. Kind Sage, I suspect our bodies and our planet have complimentary circulatory systems.

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  10. I love every word of this. Flora's place sounds divine. I have come to see the hicks of the world as those who have one ear to the ground, more aware of what was, is, and will be ... being a hick is a good thing, the world has more than enough pseudo sophisticates. Mad Magazine was a wonderful antidote to all that.

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    1. Thanks Teresa. I was raised a hick, it's true. I'm still in contact with a childhood friend named Floyd...yes, Floyd. First vehicle Norma and I bought together was a '52 3/4-ton Dodge pickup. I cannot play the banjo and refuse to learn --one has to draw the line somewhere. But you're right, there is a philosophical quiddity --a sense of whatness-- that can't be as easily learned in any other way.

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  11. "Complementary circulatory systems"... what a wonderful way to put it. Without a doubt, the rhythm of the ocean resonates within me, and there's nowhere on earth that pulls to me more strongly. I suppose lot of other people feel the same, except for those who have never been to the water. Then again, I wonder if people who have never seen the ocean still feel an aching wanderlust, without knowing the ocean is actually what their souls seek.

    Nice post, dude.

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    1. Thanks Susan. I must agree, there's something about standing on the shore with the continent and all its cares and business behind, with the broad expanse of ocean ahead, that trains the mind to peace.

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  12. We sang Sea Fever in my junior school choir- I always loved it. If ever I am unsure of my thoughts, I go to the beach and listen to the waves- your poem has it right!
    Flora sounds awesome.
    Took Little Granddaughter down to watch the landlord's cattle be TB tested today, we are happy with hick life :-)

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! When I gardened for the city, I had to be TB tested every two years. Now I know why there was so much mooing in the line.

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