A trinity of Western trees which call me: Russian olive, aspen, cottonwood. A trinity of Southern trees which call me: crepe myrtle, dogwood, oak.
When I arrived home from Colorado, I found July hot and steamy, as it should be this time of year. The two crepe myrtle trees in my side yard were in full bloom. Recently planted herbs (spearmint, lovage, sage, thyme, lavender, rue, oregano) were thriving. Weeds in my borders are profuse. I’ll need some days for weeding. I like to weed, especially pulling each wee up by the hand. It’s relaxing. It’s generally quiet in Mebane, so I get to hear bird song and breeze, if there be any.
Last weekend I pulled one of the first books of poetry I owned, One Hundred and One Famous Poems. I remember finding it in a Raleigh bookstore when I was in ninth grade, and I chose to buy it because it contained many poems I had memorized in grade six, seven, and eight. My education those years required that I memorize Sam Walter Foss’s “The House by the Side of the Road,” Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!”, William Wordsworth’s “The Daffodils,” Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees,” Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Requiem,” Leigh Hunt’s “Abou Ben Adhem,” John Masefield’s “Sea Fever,” Alice Cary’s “Nobility,” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn.” They are all there, and many were in our reading books, too. And we memorized other poems. And there in the prose section is Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” which we memorized in fifth grade.
I disliked Kilmer’s “Trees” from the moment I first read it. It’s a terrible poem, but it became a popular art song. And there’s a great memorial forest in western North Carolina named for Kilmer, which I’ve not visited. I want to go this fall. I will plan to go this fall. Where is a fellow Druidic spirit who would go with me for a weekend there?
The purpose of One Hundred and One Famous Poems, according to editor Roy J. Cook, is “to enrich ennoble, and encourage.” It’s an eclectic collection; masterpieces by the Brownings, Dickinson, Emerson, Frost, Millay, Shelley, Tennyson, Keats, Poe, among others, are printed along with the little known didactic or popular poets, such as James Whitecomb Riley and Eugene Field. It’s thus a fun little book. I remember that our eleventh grade English teacher, the woman who most influenced me to become an English teacher, often read didactic, moralistic, or inspirational poems to begin a class. Then she taught with great rigor the great poets of the United States. Field must have dome something right; a branch of the Greensboro, NC, library is name for him, as is a branch in Denver. I like the thesis of Alex Ross, the music critic for The New Yorker, who in his book of essays on music Listen to This, states that all music originates from the same need and has the same purpose. All kinds of music thus deserve critical attention. And I suppose the selection of the poems in my old book presents me the same opportunity to examine the source and purpose of all kinds of poetry. I’ll enjoy reading it again, and I’ll try not to puke when I read “Trees.”
The Rocky Mountains call me. Estes Park calls me, but I cannot afford to live there. There’s something about the Rocky Mountain area that is elemental to me. It’s the same feeling I feel when I visit Monterey, California. It seems I’ve lived good lives there before or that in another life I may do so. I don’t know what such feelings mean. I don’t care. They are good feelings, and they indicate good places for my soul.
Conservative Republican friends visited me for dinner Monday night. They are in anguish about the Obama administration. The are afraid that the Muslims are here, taking over the country with the help of Obama, that they are here to kill us. They fear we are weak militarily and that we are becoming socialists. I changed the subject and we talked about things such as Pandora Radio and geocaching and travel and mutual friends. I had not heard such rancor in a long time. We are a divided country. We lack the broad view that both political sides have the same interest, to do what is best for the country, that there are various ways of looking at how that can be accomplished. Instead, we demonize and disparage those who disagree with us. We lack tact and civility. And the same is true about some Liberal friends I have.
Yesterday the recycling truck came by. I noticed that the man who attached the container to the truck’s lift opened the countainer and took the August copy of Our State: Down Home is North Carolina. Next time I’ll place copies of The New Yorker on top, and if I’m here when the truck somes, I’ll see if he takes them. I hope he will. I’m encouraged that people like to read. The junior high aged children of friends of mine, Edith, John, and Christian, when they visit first go to my bookshelves and start asking questions about books. Good, good.
In preparation for a short, informal recital next summer, I’ve begun to plan a program, to practice again. I will prepare a few new pieces and will play other pieces that I have loved over the years. It is fun to start a big project.
Edith Sitwell once enjoyed what she called her red lunches: red wine, lobster, and strawberries. Last night I found myself enjoying a red supper: Teresa’s vegetable souple, made from her garden tomatoes and herbs, and a slice of watermelon. Yummers.
I planning to post each Wednesday. Thanks for stopping by. Leave me a message, if you’d like.