Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lot 96 And Lot 304: "The Ghost Dogs In The Vanishing Gardens"

Here is a sobering and, perhaps, tristful thought:  what will an idle browser think of your life as he or she peruses the items in your estate sale?  What will the detritus of your life tell them about you?

For example, one of my prized possessions is the 1976 edition of The Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy (edited by James Gibson):  the first edition of Hardy's poetry to collect all of his poems in a single book.  I don't usually write in my books.  However, I decided to make an exception for this volume.  It seemed to me that the book would be with me until my dying day, and, given the number of poems in the book -- 947 -- I wanted to check them off as I read them, so that I could keep track of my progress.  In addition, over the years I have nearly filled the endpapers of the book with words from the poems for which I have written out definitions.

Or, consider this:  an egg of green alabaster acquired in an antique store in a Cotswold village on an autumn day in 1986.  Or this:  a baseball signed by members of the 1967 Minnesota Twins (Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Dean Chance, and others), purchased for me by my grandfather during a game at Metropolitan Stadium in the summer of that year.

You know what I mean.

John Aldridge, "Still Life" (1958)

                              Lot 96

Lot 96:  a brass-rimmed ironwork fender.
It had stood guard for years, where it used to belong,
Over the hearth of a couple who loved tenderly.
Now it will go for a song.

Night upon winter night, as she gossiped with him
Or was silent, he watched the talkative firelight send
Its reflections twittering over that burnished rim
Like a language of world without end.

Death, which unclasped their hearts, dismantled all.
The world they made is as if it had never been true --
That firelit bubble of warmth, serene, magical,
Ageless in form and hue.

Now there stands, dulled in an auction room,
This iron thing -- a far too durable irony,
Reflecting never a ghost of the lives that illumed it,
No hint of the sacred fire.

This lot was part of their precious bond, almost
A property of its meaning.  Here, in the litter
Washed up by death, values are re-assessed
At a nod from the highest bidder.

C. Day Lewis, Pegasus and Other Poems (1957).

George Clausen (1852-1944), "The Chinese Pot"

     Lot 304: Various Books

There are always lives
Left between the leaves
Scattering as I dust
The honeymoon edelweiss
Pressed ferns from prayer-books
Seed lists and hints on puddings
Deprecatory letters from old cousins
Proposing to come for Easter
And always clouded negatives
The ghost dogs in the vanishing gardens:

Fading ephemera of non-events,
Whoever owned it
(Dead or cut adrift or homeless in a home)
Nothing to me, a number, or if a name
Then meaningless,
Yet always as I touch a current flows,
The poles connect, the wards latch into place,
A life extends me --
Love-hate; grief; faith; wonder;

Joan Barton, The Mistress and Other Poems (1972).

Thomas Henslow Barnard (1898-1992), "Still Life"


Bovey Belle said...

What perfect timing - I spent the middle part of today at an auction - bidding on 4 things, and only winning one (a book case . . . very apt).

We have furnished our entire house from auctions over the years, housing other peoples' memories and overlaying them with our own. We treasure other people's craftsmanship and skill, see usefulness in something deemed a museum piece by others . . .

Lovely poems - especially the Cecil Day-Lewis one.

Stephen Pentz said...

Bovey Belle: it's very good to hear from you again.

That is good timing, isn't it? That's a wonderful way to put it: "housing other peoples' memories and overlaying them with our own." It's a lovely way to think of the things that I have picked up in antique stores over the years.

Thank you very much for visiting -- I'm always happy to have you stop by.