Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Today, as I walked beneath a green-canopied tree tunnel, I remembered that the summer solstice will arrive later this week. Despite the vaulting, airy boughs above me, the late afternoon -- grey, windless, still -- felt  somehow stifled and close.  It did not seem as though summer was poised to make a grand and sweeping entrance.

Soon after I emerged from the green light of the trees, the word "susurration" floated up.  I have no idea why.  But, yes, the grey and breathless afternoon was indeed in need of a susurration.

I continued to walk.  A few minutes later, as I neared home, a brief breeze stirred the leaves of a pear tree next to the sidewalk.  Drops of water from an earlier rain shower pattered from the leaves onto my shoulders.  A susurration.


Repose is in simplicities.
Perhaps the mind has leaves like trees
Involving the luxurious sun
And tossed by wind's intricacies,
And finds repose is more than grief
When failing light and falling leaf
Denote that winter has begun.

James Reeves, The Imprisoned Sea (Poetry London 1949).

Charles Kerr (1858-1907), "Carradale"

All is well with the World.  Meanwhile, in this odd and wonderful country of mine, land that I love, there are those who are already in the thrall of next year's presidential election.  Every four years we witness a battle to the death between Absolute Good and Absolute Evil, with the Fate of the Republic at stake.  I have now lived through sixteen of these contests for the Soul and the Destiny of the nation.  I continue to wait for the sky to fall.

As I write this, the robins warble and chatter in the garden outside my window.  The sun will set before they stop for the day.  Tomorrow morning, they will begin again well before it rises.


Through the pale green forest of tall bracken-stalks,
Whose interwoven fronds, a jade-green sky,
Above me glimmer, infinitely high,
Towards my giant hand a beetle walks
In glistening emerald mail; and as I lie
Watching his progress through huge grassy blades
And over pebble boulders, my own world fades
And shrinks to the vision of a beetle's eye.

Within that forest world of twilight green
Ambushed with unknown perils, one endless day
I travel down the beetle-trail between
Huge glossy boles through green infinity . . .
Till flashes a glimpse of blue sea through the bracken asway,
And my world is again a tumult of windy sea.

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, Neighbours (Macmillan 1920).

William Lamond (1857-1924), "A Coastal Village"


Chris Matarazzo said...

Hello, Stephen! This blog is not about poetry--it is poetry. Such a haven in a mad world. I've been away too long. Hope all is well!

Bruce Floyd said...

Night before last, a few minutes before midnight, I took the dogs outside, and while I stood beneath the giant oak and the dogs sniffed around, I looked into the sky at the full moon, almost directly above me, the strawberry moon (the full moon in June let the Native Americans know the strawberries were ripe,ready to be picked), bright in a cloudless sky, Sirius keeping its faithful watch on the moon's flank, the heat of the day having given way to the temperate touch of the night. A gentle breeze rose and died. I thought of the magic in the phrase "the summer wind." Standing under the ancient tree, the full moon blazing above, the night quiet, even the usually noisy owls silent, I found myself quoting Keats:

As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
Those green-rob'd senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir,
Save from one gradual solitary gust
Which comes upon the silence, and dies off,
As if the ebbing air had but one wave . . .

It was, as you say, a moment of sweet repose, almost other-worldly. The world seemed to be charmed, beyond suffering and mortality. If the arms of the oak lay quiescent in dreams, so did the solitary man standing beneath them.

Stephen Pentz said...

Chris: It's great to hear from you again. Thank you for the kind words. That's very nice of you to say.

All is well here. I hope all is well with you and your family -- including the two new canine arrivals (who I believe may have arrived by now). Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm happy to know you are still stopping by.

Stephen Pentz said...

Bruce: That's lovely. Thank you very much. "Quiescent in dreams": a wonderful phrase. As is often the case, I've been visiting Chinese poetry recently, where one comes upon references to life as a dream. A common theme in Japanese poetry as well. And I suppose in poetry in all times and in all places. Your meditation captures that thought and feeling.

The lines from Keats are lovely. Thank you for sharing them. I had to search the internet to find their source: "Hyperion." Ah, you are a far better (and more learnèd) man than I am: I have never ventured into it. And I feel I am a fool for never having done so. "Branch-charmed by the earnest stars." Reading all 800-odd lines of the poem would have been worth it for that alone! I'll never forget it now.

As always, it's good to have you here. Thank you very much.