Monday, June 13, 2011

"Delicate Grasses"

I cross a field on my daily walk.  In that field I have worn a path.  Six months ago I was walking the path on a cold afternoon when suddenly a curtain of snow swept across it off of Puget Sound.  The wild grasses were grey and fallen.  I was deep in a wintry Robert Frost mood at that time, and I remember thinking of lines from his "Desert Places":  "Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast/In a field I looked into going past."

Now, near summer, the grasses in the field are four to five feet high in places.  I have to search to find my old path through the swaying stalks.  It brings back memories of walking down rustling rows of tall corn in Minnesota when I was young.

                    Delicate Grasses

Delicate grasses blowing in the wind,
grass out of cracks among tiered seats of stone
where a Greek theatre swarmed with audience,
till Time's door shut upon
the stir, the eloquence.

A hawk waiting above the enormous plain,
lying upon the nothing of the air,
a hawk who turns at some sky-wave or lull
this way, and after there
as dial needles prowl.

Cool water jetting from a drinking fountain
in crag-lands, miles from any peopled spot,
year upon year with its indifferent flow;
sound that is and is not;
the wet stone trodden low.

There is no name for such strong liberation;
I drift their way; I need what their world lends;
then, chilled by one thought further still than those,
I swerve towards life and friends
before the trap-fangs close.

Bernard Spencer, With Luck Lasting (1963).

                         Peter Christian Skovgaard, "Oat Field" (1843)

4 comments:

Murgatroyd said...

Ooh, I can feel those grasses rustling, cool and green around me...

William A. Sigler said...

Where do you find these poems?! Wonderful.

Stephen Pentz said...

Thanks for the thought, Murgatroyd. I am reminded of Sting's "Fields of Gold" as well -- "the fields of barley."

Stephen Pentz said...

As always, thank you for stopping by, Mr. Sigler. As for the source of the poems: too much daydreaming amongst books, I fear. As for Bernard Spencer: an unjustly neglected poet who died too young as well.

Thanks again.