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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tide, Time and Poetry (Revisited)

I was called to substitute for your regular pastor at an inopportune moment and had no sermon prepared. However, I found this Antijeremiadic McWhirtle on which to improvise.
 
Like all humans, I contain several tablespoons of salt --a ratio I share with my weight in seawater because both are made on earth. Earth, in turn, was assembled by electric and gravitational attractions various compounds in outer space exerted upon one another. Throughout these compilations there remain attachments to forces among shifting stars. Like sound aimed at a microphone element they stir the oceans and make them speak. We hear it on the shore when currents collide in 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. Heavy Metal and Rap always sounded like rhythmic tantrums to me --a parent shouting its wit's short end, a child stomping off, the heart beating over one's foetal head. When the beat stops I expect to hear: NOW GO TO YOUR ROOM!!, glass breaking or 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've never been an avid e.e. cummings fan either, but discovering "i sing of Olaf" at a crucial time impelled me to leave no authority unexamined and saved my life.

Next wave: In 1968, 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, especially in forgiveness, opens poetry --and working hops without it was just hot and hard. I kept learning and prospered.

I could go on anecdotally  about how poetry redirected me in positive ways, but these two successive waves suffice. Thought is very random enterprise, like the vast universe that sets it up and sends sunlight to fuel it. It generates safeguards of common sense that make us find beaches not with little whiney trumpet exhaust or subwoofing cars but in ancient hop trucks. It also furnishes an ocean in our heads, portable oceans, which cuts metaphorical driving considerably. I am reminded of the old Masefield poem, which I learned over a half-century ago but can still recite inaccurately 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, as you know, was a writer for Mad Magazine who became the British Poet-Laureate.

I am still a hick. Help! Amen.

22 comments:

  1. A "hick," you say? Your "little poem" is really quite a big joy and a wave of its own.
    Thank you.

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  2. Poetry, especially poetry that doesn't rhyme, is delightful. A path to somewhere you've never been, or didn't know you\d been.

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    1. True, Delores, poetry sure helps me understand stuff.

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  3. Geo, we are ALL hicks - - but only the creme de la creme of hicks are courageous enough to admit it.

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    1. Generous Jon, I have never considered either of us less than the creme de la creme of hicks.

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  4. Your poem was fine indeed.
    I do feel the need, too g*********** many years in science and academics. The human content, when sorted by mass is thus, when the corpus is functional:
    Oxygen
    Carbon
    Hydrogen
    Nitrogen
    Phosphorus
    and damn near any other chemical one can imagine.

    It changes, of course, as the corpus returns to the earth, the oxygen decreases, other changes occur.

    According to the laws of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted from one form to another. In other words: things fall apart, converting their mass to energy while doing so. Decomposition is one final, morbid reminder that all matter in the universe must follow these fundamental laws. It breaks us down, equilibrating our bodily matter with its surroundings, and recycling it so that other living things can put it to use.

    We are all iterations of carbon.

    Cheers, Geo.
    Mike

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    1. Dear Mike, we are a caprice of carbon, carbon based, beneficiaries of its valence, of its support of the spark of life. John Ciardi wrote an excellent poem about thermodynamics --it's been so long, Mike, I can only remember "Who would believe an ant in theory?". Point is, we are all temporary products of a continuum. What we fully are is an even greater enigma.

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  5. Personally I like e.e. cummings almost as much as i like Bennett Cerf. Poetry can be fun and there is not nearly enough fun in the world. I can hear it in the waves and the breezes... why can't other people hear it?

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    1. Maybe, they haven't been trained to hear it, Emma. Those of us who heard records by Burl Ives or had Milne read to us as children were attuned to the rhythm and sadness and fun --the power of poetry-- at an early age. The poetry of youth, Ginsberg, Frost, Dylan, can only educate and be built upon --not replaced.

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  6. After reading "Antijeremiadic McWhirtle" all I can think of is the Scottish spurtle (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spurtle) which is a VERY different thing but it is stuck in my head due to the rhyming factor.

    What a beautiful drawing of the ocean. You have more than one artistic talent, Geo.

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    1. O jenny, thanks for complimenting my doodle. Most striking similarity between forms Spurtle and McWhirtle is they must be stirred clockwise with the right hand.

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  7. In the middle of the post, I thought, you are not a hick. And then at the end, you reiterated. And the ocean in my head (the portable one) rolled in on itself.

    --Countess Chocula.

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    1. Sounds refreshing. So glad to find you again, Suze!

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  8. Trying to comment on North Gate but 'Anonymous' commenting is not an option at the workshop. I reproduce my thoughts, here:

    A weightless thought
    Alone can shift stone,

    reminds me of a sermon I heard, translated from Korean, on YouTube (of all places) night before last. The prayer of faith is like an egg that can crack a boulder.

    --Countess Chocula.

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    1. Obrigado Condessa, I'm still in the process of changing comment settings I was forced to make years ago and hope to remember how I did it, so I may undo it without getting swamped with adverts. It may take a while. I delight in your comment on my little poem, and your mention of the Korean example of ampliative induction. Google Blogger has been narrowing our options in recent years --I'll see what I can do.

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  9. Oh dude, dude, dude, you are anything but a "hick." (That goes for Jon, too!) You have the mind of a philosopher and dreamer, and the soul of a poet. Nothing the least bit "hick-y" about that.

    I love your poem. Maybe our comparable salinity is what draws us to the ocean? The attraction is certainly primal, whether it's the salt water or the rhythm. All I know is when I stand beside the ocean, I feel at home and at peace. (Too bad that ringing in our ears doesn't sound more like the surf, eh?)

    Speaking of surf, I'm currently listening to a CD called "Endless Ocean," a selection of classical music accompanied by the sounds of the surf. I have a feeling you might like it as much as I do. :)

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    1. Susan, thank you. I DO think there is a salt bond to the ocean, a relief --even breathing is easier at sea level. And I'm glad you brought up tinnitus. A year ago I consulted Medicare and my medigap insurer about hearing aids and was told the new generation of devices had a white-noise tinnitus-masking function and medigap offered a generous discount thru Truhearing. I still left a fortune with the audiologist and miss it, but am glad to hear the same sound as seawater sliding on sand --over the screeching in my head.

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  10. Dear Geo., I liked your poem, thank you! And "hick" I had to look up - Objection!
    As to Heavy Metal: normally it makes me nervous and is a pain in the ears to me, but yesterday I bought a CD because I wanted a special song - and later I found out that it is --- Heavy Metal! But I like the way the singer Conan of "Disturbed" interpret the "Sound of Silence".

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    1. Most kind Brigitta, "objection" appreciated but, fundamentally, Ich bin ein Hinterwäldler --or at least a rustic. I looked up Disturb's interpretation of "Sound of Silence", which I had not heard before, and liked it very much. The singer has a fine voice.

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  11. I definitely think that poetry can redirect people in positive ways, indeed. As much as I like writing, I have never really shared much of my poetry on here, for I am quite novice in it. You may have inspired me :)

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    1. Keith, I hope you do post some poetry --practice is the way to get it how you want it go. It's such a flexible and personal form, always changing. Although I am an old man, I am always a young poet. Best wishes to you and Beate.

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