Friday, January 30, 2015

Golden Apples of The Sun

January 30th 2015

I used to read a picture book to my children when they were little called "The Lupine Lady." It was about Miss Rumphius who searched her whole life for adventure and in the end, when she was too old to travel any more, settled into the kind of house over the ocean that one day I hope to occupy. And here Miss Rumphius pondered how she could leave the world a better place. She thought and thought, and here's what she settled upon: lupines. From that time until her death she scattered lupine seeds along every trail, on every hillside, through every town until in the spring of each year the land was ablaze with pink, purple and blue lupines.

I bring that up because in a similar way I would like my legacy to be poems. Not my poems, but the great poems our race has left along the way. And I would like to sow them in the hearts of the young, where they can do the most good. When my children were a bit older, I paid them to learn poems.
Poetry is important because it exists at the perfect point of balance between  wonder and the intellect;  it is the kernel around which all other fruits of art flourish. Even a painting has a silent poem at its heart.
Why is Shakespeare celebrated - for the stories? No. To modern ears the narratives are overwrought and often plain silly. For the characters? No. Even Hamlet on his battlements is close to caricature, the youth weighed down by existential angst. Ophelia is as alien and outdated as some Freudian notion of female hysteria.
It's the poetry, silly: Life's...but a walking shadow, a poor player that frets and struts his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. 
Life's but a walking shadow. Pure nectar.
Top of my list of poems-for-pay is Yeats's "Song Of Wandering Aengus." I will pay anyone money to emblazon these words on their brain cells:

I went out to the Hazel wood
Because a fire was in my head,
Cut and peeled a hazel wand
And hooked a berry to a thread
And when white moths were on the wing
And moth-like stars were flickering out
I dropped the berry in a steam
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had lain it on the floor
And gone to blow the fire aflame
Something rustled on the floor
And someone called me by name
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossoms in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And vanished in the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands
I will find out where she has gone
And kiss her lips and take her hands
And walk among long dappled grass
And pluck till time and time are done
The silver apples of the moon
The golden apples of the sun.

This is why you have to have faith in humanity. Despite its depths of depravity sometimes, it is capable of moments such as this. Which is why poetry is the queen of the arts and why I'd like to be known one day, not as the lupine lady but as the poems-for-pay lady. I can think of no better gift than a shining poem to set like a diamond in the dark soul.  I don't care how disturbed your thoughts, how starved your heart, if you bury these words inside of yourself, a warm glow will take hold that wasn't there before.

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