not a pretty picture. not a good. not a bad. picture. but an argument.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

devoting one's life

it was february. i decided to walk out into the pines. there was nothing else to say but, this will take some time; be good, find joy, live life; i knew you once, as well as was possible.

A Post-Impressionist Susurration for the First of November, 1983 by Hayden Carruth

Does anything get more tangled or higgeldy-piggeldy than the
     days as they drop all jumbled and
One by one on the historical heap? Not likely. And so we are all, in
     spite of ourselves, jackstraw diarists.
This afternoon we went walking on the towpath of the Erie Canal,
     which was strangely
Straight and narrow for our devious New England feet. Yet it was
     beautiful, a long earthen avenue
Reaching far ahead of us into the gossamer veils that hung
     everywhere in folds, oaks clinging to their dark leaves,
Bare maples in their many shades of gray, the field of goldenrod
     gone to seed and burnt-out asters,
Sumac with dark cones, the brown grasses, and at the far edge,
     away from the canal,
A line of trees above which towered three white pines in their
     singular shapes.
I have never seen a white pine growing naturally that was not
     unique and sculpturesque.
Why should one not devote one's life to photographing white
      pines, as Bentley of Jericho
Spent his photographing snowflakes? But it's too late, of course.
     At all events the colors,
Not forgetting cattails and milkweed, dock and sorbaria, ferns and
     willows and barberries,
Were a nearly infinite variety of soft tones, the subtle tones,
     made even more indistinct
In their reflections in the greenish water on the canal. And a light
     breeze was blowing.
For once I will risk the word zephyr, which is right and which
     reminds me of sapphire,
And I realize beneath all these colors lay an undertone of blue,
     the gentle sky as it curls
 Below the penumbra of vision. A small yellow butterfly tricked its
     way across the brown field beside us,
And I thought to myself, Where in the hell did you come from? Last
     night was a hard frost.
And then I knew it had been born this day, perhaps a moment ago,
     and its life was flickering, flickering out in our presence,
As we walked with our hands in a lovers' clasp on the straight
     towpath beside the canal that made us think
Of France, of tumbling autumn days, of hundreds and hundreds
     and hundreds of loves and visions.
Sometimes Cindy is half ill, sometimes more than half, because she
     doesn't know as much
As people she envies. She writes poems about not knowing, about
     the anguish over knowledge,
And when I was her age I felt the same way. I know that anguish.
     I used to be pained especially
Because I could not name the colors I saw, and I envisioned painters
     their knowledge of pigments,
I studied the charts of colors and I looked up the names—mallow,
     cerise—in the dictionary,
I examined the meanings of hue, shade, tone, tint, density,
     saturation, brilliance, and so on,
But it did no good. The eye has knowledge the mind can not share,
     which is why painters
So often are inarticulate. Is the eye ignorant, uneducated? How
     absurd. That would be impossible.
Hence I became eventually, gradually, unashamed of my mind's
     incapacity, just as I had once written
Poems to be read many times, but what was the use of that? Now
     I write poems to be read once and forgotten,
Or not to be read at all.


  1. The light penetrating the heart of the woods in your startling image is like the yellow butterfly, and the poem. Flickering out, jewel like, in our presence.

  2. thank you for liking the shot)

    amanda, i`m so happy this association came to you! (and that carruth says the butterfly ``tricked its way across the brown field,`` - tricked!!! how the poem is enlivened here! how it rises through (the abundance of even muted) colours! what is light and the happenstance of a dusting of snow thrown from boughs if not this, an enlivening.

    the poem is so much more, of course, and deserves a great deal of time and attention, as do the trees and the light, always)))

  3. Amanda's analogy of the the yellow butterfly in painted in this lovely poem with the soft light penetrating through the innocence of the woods in this image you captured, erin, is why i so enjoy how artists like yourself and those of the word can be married to stimulate the response of those that also have the heart and soul of an artist.

    gracias for sharing such loveliness

  4. La beauté n'appartient à personne et la vie d'un papillon ausi brève qu'elle soit, sera sans doute plus intense que beaucoup de vies humaines engluées dans leur confort. Il me manque d'entendre le son de ta voix, et la musique des mots que tu viens d'écrire, s'échappant de ta bouche si tu les disais pour moi à haute voix. Qu'importe le savoir absolu, les poètes ont aussi ce don de l'alchimie des mots. Jamais un dictionnaire n'écrira un beau texte. Jamais. J'aime , mettre mes pas dans les tiens et te suivre tout au long de cette délicieuse promenade, même si je n'ai pas le nom exact de toutes les couleurs qui t'aurons charmées. Tu vis la lumière. Tu sais la faire partager avec tes mots et elle arrive jusqu'à moi. J'ai compris cela de toi depuis longtemps. Prends soin de toi.



"Words at the limit of hearing, attributable to no one, received in the conch of the ear like dew by a leaf." (philippe jaccottet) or even a quiet presence is appreciated))