Sunday, March 10, 2013

"The Motion Of The Earth"

Yesterday was one of those gentle-breeze, angled-sunlight, blue-sky days which confirm that Spring is no longer a mere promise.  The world seems wide open and wide awake on such days.  But there is also a scent of close earthiness in the air:  the dirt at our feet is burgeoning as well.

James McIntosh Patrick, "Springtime in Eskdale" (1934)

                 The Motion of the Earth

A day with sky so wide,
So stripped of cloud, so scrubbed, so vacuumed free
Of dust, that you can see
The earth-line as a curve, can watch the blue
Wrap over the edge, looping round and under,
Making you wonder
Whether the dark has anywhere left to hide.
But the world is slipping away; the polished sky
Gives nothing to grip on; clicked from the knuckle
The marble rolls along the gutter of time --
Earth, star and galaxy
Shifting their place in space.
Noon, sunset, clouds, the equably varying weather,
The diffused light, the illusion of blue,
Conceal each hour a different constellation.
All things are new
Over the sun, but we,
Our eyes on our shoes, go staring
At the asphalt, the gravel, the grass at the roadside, the door-
step, the doodles of snails, the crochet of mortar and lime,
Seeking the seeming familiar, though every stride
Takes us a thousand miles from where we were before.

Norman Nicholson, The Pot Geranium (1954).

The closing lines make the poem a good companion piece to Louis Simpson's "The Foggy Lane," which appeared in my previous post.  To wit: while we should always keep an eye to the ground (Simpson), we mustn't forget that the earth is speeding away beneath our feet (Nicholson).

James McIntosh Patrick, "Glamis Village" (1939)

8 comments:

Cenya Eichengreen said...

Although it is still winter here, there are little promises of Spring everywhere. Green buds, daphne and narcisus blooming, sunshine...

james bruce floyd said...

I don't know that any people anticipate with more joy the arrival of spring than those who live in New England,especially this years, the region storm battered and snow immured time after time.

A pretty day in late March, however, can augur the promised arrival of spring, a day urging us to be patient. To Emily Dickinson the arrival of March was a precursor of spring. March, she knows, can came come with snow but the month, she avers, "shalt go at such a gait of joy / That man anew embark to live / Upon the depth of thee." Here's the entire little poem on the legerdemain of chameleon-like March:

In snow thou comest --
Thou shalt go with the resuming ground,
The sweet derision of the crow,
And Glee's advancing sound.

In fear thou comest --
Thou shalt go at such a gait of joy
That man anew embark to live
Upon the depth of thee.

Stephen Pentz said...

Cenya Eichengreen: thank you very much for visiting, and for your thoughts. Yes, I have been watching the buds as well -- a few early cherries have already begun to blossom, but I am awaiting the magnolias.

Thanks again.

Stephen Pentz said...

Mr Floyd: as always, I appreciate your providing something by Dickinson: given my unfamiliarity with her poetry, it is always nice to see something from her. And what you choose is always a good complement to what I have chosen. She goes well beyond the old saw "in like a lion, out like a lamb" in this poem, doesn't she?

Thank you again.

Bambi said...

I am new to your blog but I am finding it a refreshing stop in my day. We in Kentucky are especially excited about the coming of spring too! Bambi~

Stephen Pentz said...

Bambi: thank you very much for visiting, and for your kind words. I hope that you will return soon.

Anonymous said...

Here's more Emily Dickinson on March:
March is the Month of Expectation,
The things we do not know --
The Persons of prognostication
Are coming now --
We try to show becoming firmness --
But pompous Joy
Betrays us, as his first Betrothal
Betrays a Boy.
Susan in NYC

Stephen Pentz said...

Susan in NYC: it is very nice to hear from you again.

Thank you very much for the Dickinson poem, which fits right in with the theme of Spring and its motions and changes. As I noted above in my response to Mr Floyd's comment, given my unfamiliarity with her poetry, I am always pleased to discover more of her work. Although I can't say that I always "get it," her poetry invariably sounds lovely, which is the first (and perhaps the most important) criterion.

Again, thank you very much. I hope that you will return soon.