In his journal entry for April 4, 1852, Thoreau begins: I have got to the pass with my friend that our words do not pass with each other for what they are worth. We speak in vain; there is none to hear. He finds fault with me that I walk alone, when I pine for want of a companion; that I commit my thoughts to a diary even on my […]
Tag Archive for ‘Reading’
For sidewalk, Walt Whitman liked to use the word trottoir. Offhand, I can think of no other nineteenth century American writer who did so — this, of course, based on my faulty memory and limited reading. Word choice aside, one thing I’m noticing this time through his Specimen Days, is that buildings and trains are every bit as alive to him as oaks and sparrows — indeed, in his poetic […]
Thoreau, off on a tramp, writing by moonlight. Whitman, bending a sapling to test his paralyzed strength. Bathing in ponds. Crow-voices. Wild flowers. Bumblebees. The nighttime parade of stars. The names of ferry-boat captains. Snow to the waist. Ice-cakes in the river. Big families. Poetry. Geology. Boot laces. Wild carrots. The end of the war. My hand on the knob. Your knock on the door.
On any given day — and all days are given, and never to be taken for granted — what I think, what I know, and whatever conclusions I reach are of such a temporary nature that I can hardly see how they might be useful to another. They are born of what I might call the Montaigneity of the moment, and serve as matches held up in the darkness of […]
At long last I can say I have read Leaves of Grass — every word, in the poet’s final edition. I can also say that I have read each poem aloud, phrase by phrase, line by line, slowly, patiently, thoughtfully, carefully listening all the while. I had read Walt Whitman before. I had read his 1855 first edition, and many of his poems at random. And about fifteen years ago, […]
They’ll say we knew each other, that we spoke to each other in poems, and that when at long last evening fell, we were solemn, we were still. December 4, 2019. Evening. Imagine a Word Imagine a word deep in its image, and a page in an ice age burning for warmth. Imagine a tongue that is fire, before learning to speak. Imagine the ashes, and what they are […]
From a multiplicity of views, comes a unified result — we children broke God’s window, and let his demons out. About four-thirty this morning, I finished a reading project of many months’ duration: the three-volume Library of America edition of the works of Henry Adams — a beautifully written, thought-provoking collection of history, fiction, and autobiography by a nineteenth century master with a twentieth century vision and beyond. November […]
After I finish reading the Library of America edition of Walt Whitman’s complete poems and prose, and when the wind dies down, I think I will turn to Emily Dickinson — 1960, Boston: Little, Brown. October 30, 2019 Unnumbered Poem If each act isn’t sacred, and each moment divine, tell me, then — who are you, and what do you do with your time?
If the mind’s a muscle that remembers its pain, Then work it, work it, and work it again. And if pleasure be its prowess and rightful domain, Raise the chalice, and treasure the palace it’s in. October 24, 2019. Late Afternoon. Upon finishing Herman Melville: Complete Poems. Library of America, 2019.
To awaken, as Thoreau once did from a dream, to find oneself a musical instrument, with the last notes dying away. To say, I was borne this day unto death’s divine music, and then pass in a canoe over the brink of a waterfall, only to find, upon landing, that the canoe has become a cabin in the woods and the waterfall a gentle rain on the roof. And now […]