Friday, October 15, 2010

I want to mention Thomas's comment on Wordsworth, which appears after my October 14, 2010, post on my main blog. I think he's really on to something there, and it's a point I touched on in my Milton memoir but that is far more evident in The Prelude than in Paradise Lost. Thomas writes: "The diffuse narrative drag interrupted by the magic of certain moments of beauty perhaps echoes the lived experience of our lives--lots of slog punctuated by events that our memories can't quite shake. But maybe we don't want to re-experience that dynamic in poetry itself--we want just those luminous moments without the prose." I think this sentence is a beautiful rendering of a question that continues to haunt my reading and writing life, and I wonder what you think about this conundrum.

And yes, I have managed to come around to Milly Jourdain--whom you might call my private symbol for slog punctuated by luminosity. I haven't copied out a poem from her collection since July, and here's what she's given me to work with today. Slog or luminosity: what label would you paste onto it? (P.S. I have no idea what those dots in the poem indicate, but they do appear in her book as I've typed them here.)

A Wish

Milly Jourdain

The fog had soaked the field all day
And drops of wet hung on the trees;
Then from the west a sounding breeze
Blew all the quiet fog away.

. . . . . . .

To stand once more upon the crest
And see the earth below me lie
All dim with mist, and watch the sky
Red, as the sun drops in the west.

And in the gleam of dying light
To stretch my hands out to the rain,
And never more be touched with pain
By footsteps in the road at night.

And when I've felt again the best,
And seen the earth grow dark and chill,
To turn my footsteps down the hill
And leave it all in cold and rest.

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