Sunday, December 4, 2011

postcard from the water's edge

Message from Belle to her Writerly Friend, 29 November 2011
... I looked up the poems you referred to... I am amazed that you picked out that David had recited the Hopkins - that had gone completely over my head at the performance - I thought he was quoting solely Emerson the whole time, other than invented business with the waitress. I haven't read a lot of Hopkins, but of the little that I have, I have always felt deeply drawn into his rocking, mesmerizing rhythms and sonorities.
Good morning darling - and thank you for your eloquent page hit overnight. Yes, you're exactly right - the poem my friend recited, as we stood together on the windswept riverfront, was indeed Pied Beauty.

Very many kisses, I'll catch up with you later, have a wonderful day -

Pied Beauty
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

'En plein air' writing exercise,
3 December 2011

On the Hudson waterfront. An Amtrak train is stopped at the station, engine car thrumming. It's 2:30 here now - it'll be at Penn in a couple of hours. The horn blows, and the gate clangs. Off it goes, horn blasting, engine chugging. The Romance of the Rails. Bye. Not a minute out the air becomes quiet again, except for somewhere in the near distance, the sound of a helicopter, invisibly hovering, the noise persistent and annoying as a fly and, I daresay, perhaps as unnecessary. I mean, why should a helicopter linger overhead, over the silent river.

For silence, I have to look at the river, and draw calm from its smoothly dappled surface. In the middle of the river, across from where I sit (at a wood picnic table on the rubbled waterfront point - stones and rocks and gravel underfoot, a few twigs, not the colors of nature, but of a postindustrial landscape, the only green at the moment sporadic tufts of very tough weeds, though there is a stand of four trees, right on the water, reminiscent of the columns of a memorial, perhaps on the Potomac.

Still that helicopter annoyingly thrums. (But why should I bother you with it?)

Let me tell you instead about the platinum blazing through cloudy gray, about an old industrial tower, oddly charming to me - like a Tin Man on the waterfront - presiding over its spot on the bank, where he gazes over, perhaps with longing, at the charming, dainty, red-bricked house in the middle of the river, the lighthouse forever out of reach, but forever in his sight, that looks to him like home.

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