As I’ve mentioned, Pablo Neruda is one of Chile’s Nobel Laureates in literature and a much-beloved if somewhat controversial figure. After visiting all three of Neruda’s houses multiple times (in Santiago, Valparaíso and Isla Negra), I would say two main themes of his life and his work are the sea and love. Often the two mingled in his poetry, which is true of today’s poem (also in Spanish).
Robert Frost seems to be one of the most revered, well-known and widely taught American poets. I have to admit…he’s not one of my favorites. Maybe it’s because many of his poems are so long (long poems are not usually my forte); maybe it’s because I don’t find the rhythm and musicality in his poems that I so adore in other poets’ work; maybe I’m just missing something. Whatever it is, I’m not usually drawn to his work.
But of course there are exceptions, and today’s poem is one of them. I first read and dissected this poem in a high school English class. I thought, given its theme of nature, it would be appropriate since today is Earth Day, but I really love it for its underlying message about the transience of life wrapped in Frost’s especially lyrical use of words.
I love this poem. I just love it. I don’t know why. It has just always struck me with its beauty, its commentary, its sadness.
By Ezra Pound
Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens,
And she is dying piece-meal
of a sort of emotional anemia.
And round about there is a rabble
Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor.
They shall inherit the earth.
In her is the end of breeding.
Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.
She would like some one to speak to her,
And is almost afraid that I
will commit that indiscretion.
Happy Easter! However you celebrate (or don’t celebrate), I hope you have a wonderful day.
In honor of the spring season, I’m sharing a poem from the Spring section of Bartlett’s Poems for Occasions. Although this poem describes beauty of nature it also deals with some philosophical questions, which is why I’m drawn to it. But really, the lines that hook me are the third and fourth – why is it that pleasant thoughts sometimes do bring sad thoughts to mind?
Lines Written in Early Spring
By William Wordsworth
I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?