Friday, February 28, 2020

In An Election Year

In this great and wonderful country of mine, land that I love, we are in the midst of an election year.  This past week the cherry trees (and the plum trees and the pear trees) have begun to blossom.  What is one to do?

             The Valley Wind

Living in retirement beyond the World,
Silently enjoying isolation,
I pull the rope of my door tighter
And bind firmly this cracked jar.
My spirit is tuned to the Spring-season;
At the fall of the year there is autumn in my heart.
Thus imitating cosmic changes
My cottage becomes a Universe.

Lu Yün (Fourth Century A.D.) (translated by Arthur Waley), in Arthur Waley, Chinese Poems (George Allen and Unwin 1946), page 89.

James McIntosh Patrick (1907-1998), "A City Garden" (1940)


George said...

Last weekend and I noticed wisteria out in Washington, DC, and the cherry trees are coming out in the neighborhoods.

What is one to do? Admire the trees, vote, and hope for the best.

Stephen Pentz said...

George: Thank you very much for those thoughts. The arrival of spring in all of its beautiful particulars is a wonderful thing, isn't it? The progression -- each element emerging in its own turn, in its own time -- never ceases to surprise and delight, no matter how many times one experiences it.

As ever, thank you for stopping by. When it comes to cherry blossoms, you are in a fine part of the world. I hope you enjoy your spring.

Damian said...

It is our duty as citizens to vote for the cherry blossoms.

Stephen Pentz said...

Damian: Sounds reasonable. Although, on second thought, let's keep them out of it: given that everything else around us has been politicized, we ought to keep them pristine. Moreover, as Auden says of birds and flowers in "Their Lonely Betters": "Not one of them was capable of lying,/There was not one which knew that it was dying." Yes, let's leave them to themselves.

It's good to hear from you again. Thank you very much for stopping by.

Tim Guirl said...

Mr. Pentz--I was in Japan at cherry blossom time in 1972. Our U.S. Navy ship was scheduled for a week-long visit. Suddenly, after a few days in Japan, we were directed to return to Vietnam because the Easter Offensive had begun. 120,000 North Vietnamese troops crossed the DMZ into South Vietnam. We spent the next seven months trying to slow the offensive, which included mining Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam. For those who may be interested, Max Hastings has written an excellent history of the Vietnam War, 'Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy'.

John said...

March 5 6 AM 35 degrees
I open the kitchen door
to let Cosmo in and see,
from top to bottom, Mars,
Jupiter, and Saturn stretching
diagonally from Sagittarius
to walnut trees between
Benny’s lawn and the meadow.

An energetic, young mockingbird
inhabiting the quince hedge
on the front edge of our yard
sings to half the Solar System
and the kettle whistles.

Stephen Pentz said...

Mr. Guirl: Thank you very much for sharing your striking memory. I find myself at a loss for words, apart from saying (too many years later), I am grateful for your service. Your experience certainly puts things in a different (and needed) perspective.

As always, thank you very much for visiting.

Stephen Pentz said...

John: Thank you very much: lovely. Such moments and places are where life takes place, aren't they? I am reminded of another morning poem: "Lying Awake" by Thomas Hardy, which you are no doubt familiar with: "You, Morningtide Star, now are steady-eyed, over the east . . ." You are right: we dwell in a World that lies between what is outside our kitchen door and the stars and the planets overhead.

Thank you again.