The fullness of summer is evident in rapidly growing grass and trees and in the blooming of things. The crepe myrtles throughout the town, including in my yard, are full, heavy with white, red, pink, or fuchsia flowers. My small plot of physotegia had its first blossom this week.
At church it was announced that students are returning to college this week. Back-to-school sales are in order, there are pleas for back-to-school supplies from charities, teachers are gearing up for another academic year. I do not miss the anticipation of starting to teach another year. I do not regret the thirty-four years that I did look forward to returning to another year of teaching. I am grateful for continual good dream of teaching. It was a good career for me.
Once again I observe crows and squirrels working together as they forage for food. I wonder what their relationship is in that matter.
My nonfiction of the reading of the week was Joyce and River Higginbotham’s ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path (2012). The book is clear, well-organized, convincing discussions of Christianity and Paganism and their relationships. In the first part (five chapters), the authors give overviews of Paganism, Christianity, mystery religions, and Old Testament monotheism. The discussions are well researched, containing quotations and sources by contemporary Christian theologians, such as Elaine Pagels, Riane Eisler, and Burton Mack. The second section is the least interesting to me, chapters on personal development, faith development, and concept development, using Holon onion diagrams for illustrations. The final section is interviews of people who identify themselves as ChristoPagans and their comments about holidays and liturgies, God and Jesus, ethics and sin, family and friends.
It is always good to read poems by Carl Sandburg. Good Morning, America (1928), a collection of 163 poems, has some excellent poems, though many are not significant.
Of the statements about poetry in the introductory poem, “Tentative (First Model) Definitions of Poetry,” there are three of the thirty-eight that I like: “Poetry is an art practiced with the terrible plastic material of human language.” “Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes.” “Poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.”
The long poem from which the volume receives the title is a precursor to his later work, The People, Yes. There are good things there, especially a statement about the fall of world powers, the use of the radio, collections of slang and proverbs, and a lovely benediction: “Sea sunsets, give us keepsakes. / Prairie gloamings, pay us for prayers. Mountain clouds on bronze skies– / Give us great memories. / Let us have summer roses. / Let us have tawny harvest haze in pumpkin time. / Let us have springtime faces to toil for and play for. / Let us have the fun of booming winds on long waters. / Give us dreamy blue twilights–of winter evening–to wrap us in a coat of dreaminess. / Moonlight, come down–shine down, moonlight–meet every bird cry and every song calling to a hard old earth, a sweet young earth.” I wonder if anyone has written a choral piece of the text. It could be even more powerful as music.
There are love poems, including three of my long-standing favorites, “Moist Moon People,” (lovers outside together enjoying moonlight and feelings resonating with “castanet clicks”), “Explanations of Love,” and “Sea Chest.” There is a new favorite love poem, “Sarah’s Letter to Peter.”
There are many poems about the moon, celebrations of all seasons, poems about neck ties and hats, a wry stab at the importance of Chicago in the short “Dialogue.” I love the description of a prostitute, “She had bells on, she was jingling, and yet her young wild ways were not so young any more, nor so wild.” (“Whiffs of the Ohio River at Cincinnati”). There is a witty and appropriate comparison of grackles gathering on a lawn and gamblers gathering: “They might have been crapshooters full of hope and hot breaths. / They might have been believers in luck, come seven, come eleven.” (“Seven Eleven”) There is a beautiful imagistic nocturne: “And by the light of a white moon in Waukesha, Wisconsin, / I saw a lattice work in lilac time . . . white-mist lavender, a sweet moon lit lavender. . . ” (“Even Numbers”)
There are two powerful religious poems. “Epistle” describes the second coming of Christ as a visit that will offer Jesus’s reunion with ” . . . the sunsets, the fishing boats, the fishermen, the silhouettes all and any against the sunset of Galilee,” the things the speaker said “Jesus loved.” The crucifixion is described as a lynching in which there are two Christs, “One took the vinegar, another looked on.” “The slum man they killed, the mountain man lives on.” (“Early Lynching”)
It was a pleasure to spend hours with this collection of poetry.
Thank you for reading. There is more than a month of summer remaining. I hope you will enjoy the days.