Friday, December 31, 2021

What Matters

In my post of November 30, I mentioned the green fields we are fortunate to have throughout winter in this part of the World. Whether the day is dull grey or bright blue, I never tire of that green. I suppose I am easy to please.  But always grateful, or so I hope.

Earlier this week, the fields came to mind when I happened upon this:

                       Fragrant Grass

Fragrant grass, who knows who planted you,
Already spread in several clumps there by the terrace?
You have no mind to compete with the world --
What need is there for this deep rich green?

Wang An-shih (1021-1086) (translated by Burton Watson), in Kōjirō Yoshikawa, An Introduction to Sung Poetry (translated by Burton Watson) (Harvard University Press 1967), page 97.

John Nash (1893-1977), "Dorset Landscape" (c. 1930)

Today, as the sun descended toward the long dark silhouette of the distant mountain peaks, I watched a million bare twigs and branches turn to gold in the late afternoon light.  At the end of my walk, a thin line of crimson clouds lay along the far horizon.

"Every one of those impressions is the impression of the individual in his isolation, each mind keeping as a solitary prisoner its own dream of a world."  (Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry (Macmillan 1893), page 249.)  Well, yes, true.  Nonetheless, the World is there.  It is not a chimera.  As Wang An-shih beautifully reminds us.

The green is always with us.  And I grow fonder and fonder of the ever green World with each passing year.  Where would we be without the green?

Happy New Year, dear readers, I wish you all the best.

John Nash, "A Path through Trees" (c. 1915)


Danish dog said...

This is music in the ears of this nature lover and Hibernophile. Long live the green!

A happy New Year to you, too.


Maggie Emm said...

Happy New Year to you too Stephen - long live the green! And thanks for the John Nash's - one of my favourite painters.

John Satterberg said...

Just scanned your list of poets ... I notice that the name of my favourite is not on the list ... William Meredith. Little of his work is on the internet but he is incredible.

Stephen Pentz said...

Duncan: It's good to hear from you again. I'm pleased you liked the post.

By the way, a few months back I noticed on your blog "gists" that you made a pilgrimage to Orkney for George Mackay Brown's centenary. Thank you very much for your lovely words and photographs preserving your visit. It was nice to see his rocking chair, which I seem to recall being mentioned in at least one of his poems. And the photograph of his gravestone was touching: the word "Poet," and the beach stones, shells, and flowers that visitors have left. Wonderful. Thank you again.

This is no doubt old news to you, but I presume you are aware of the "Centenary Issue" in his honor published by The Dark Horse journal (as its Autumn/Winter 2021 issue)? I purchased a copy, and it is excellent.

Thank you very much for being here over the years. Take care.

Stephen Pentz said...

Maggie Emm: Yes, John Nash is wonderful, isn't he? (As is his brother. Are you familiar with the book First Friends by Ronald Blythe (Viking 1999)? It is about John, Paul, and Dora Carrington in the 1920s, and up until her death in 1932, with reproductions of many lovely paintings.) As you know, there is no shortage of green in John's paintings, but these two particularly stand out, I think.

Happy New Year to you as well. As always, thank you for visiting.

Stephen Pentz said...

Mr. Satterberg: Thank you for the recommendation. I confess that I am not familiar with Mr. Meredith's poetry, but I will do some exploring. I'm afraid that I have limited knowledge of American poetry in the latter half of the 20th century, which is my fault, not that of the poets. Thank you for the suggestion, and for visiting.

Andrew Rickard said...

I wish you all the best for 2022, Stephen.

Stephen Pentz said...

Andrew: Thank you. Best wishes to you in the new year as well.

It's nice to hear from you. I hope you have been enjoying your return to Montreal. I still lament the absence of Graveyard Masonry, but I respect your decision. (Fortunately, I preserved a fair number of your entries in my notebooks.) I'm happy to know that you continue to visit here. Take care.

Nikki said...

How odd this digital that distances us and connects. I happened on another of your followers on Twitter recently when she cited the poem For the New Year from your blog. We found that we are both devoted fans. Thank you!

Stephen Pentz said...

Nikki: Thank you for sharing that anecdote, which is very nice to hear. I agree: this electronic world both "distances us and connects." I often find myself bemoaning the negative aspects of that world, but then I have to remind myself that I am a voluntary participant in it, and that my participation has resulted in me being able to make a connection with people like you and the other reader you mention. So my overall response should be gratitude.

As ever, it's a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you for stopping by again.

Tim Guirl said...

A Happy New Year to you and each of your readers. May 2022 be everything that you most for.
I lost my mother, age 95, at Christmas time. She was diagnosed with dementia a decade ago, and watching this disease's effect on her, while providing care and support,changed me profoundly. There are a multitude of poems that speak to loss. If you or your readers have any favorites, I'd be grateful if you let me know through a comment here.

Stephen Pentz said...

Mr. Guirl: I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. My condolences to you and your family.

In an attempt to respond to your request, I have run through poems in my mind, but I keep second-guessing myself as to what I should suggest. So I will give you the poem that comes to me at times of loss. I'm sure you know it.

Parta Quies

Good-night; ensured release,
Imperishable peace,
Have these for yours,
While sea abides, and land,
And earth's foundations stand,
And heaven endures.

When earth's foundations flee,
Nor sky nor land nor sea
At all is found,
Content you, let them burn:
It is not your concern;
Sleep on, sleep sound.

A. E. Housman, More Poems (1936).

More generally, I would recommend the poems that appear in the chapter titled "Like Stars Upon Some Gloomy Grove" in Walter de la Mare's wonderful anthology Come Hither. I'm sure that many of the poems that de la Mare selects are known to you, but no one can match de la Mare in his knowledge of poetry, or in his ability to sensitively and movingly arrange the poems he selects.

Again, I am sorry to hear of your loss. I wish the best to you and your family. Take care.