I know now that a studied evasiveness has its own limitations, its own ways of inhibiting certain forms of happiness and pleasure. The pleasure of abiding. The pleasure of insistence, of persistence. The pleasure of obligation, the pleasure of dependency. The pleasures of ordinary devotion. The pleasure of recognizing that one may have to undergo the same realizations, write the same notes in the margin, return to the same themes in one’s work, relearn the same emotional truths, write the same book over and over again — not because one is stupid or obstinate or incapable of change, but because such revisitations constitute a life.
| Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
Samuel Menashe is at least one poet who has recorded the accidental poetry of others. In an epigraph at the beginning of his poem, “The Bare Tree”, Menashe notes: “My mother once said to me, ‘When one sees the tree in leaf, one thinks the beauty of the tree is in its leaves, and then one sees the bare tree.’” Lovely line, that. At the end of another poem, Menashe notes: “When my father was dying he said, ‘I feel receded into the distance…All of my life my spirit has been in a race with my body and now my spirit has overtaken my body.’” And Menashe remembers other sayings from his learned parents. These parents didn’t self-identify as ‘poets.’ Nevertheless they tossed off some lovely if unplanned poetry – epigrams, off-hand remarks – much of it known only to Menashe.
Thoreau always had two notebooks—one for facts, and the other for poetry. But he had a hard time keeping them apart, as he often found facts more poetic than his poems. They are, he said, translated from the language of the earth into that of the sky. Thoreau knew that the imagination uses facts to fabricate images and even delicate architectures. One summer night, looking up into the sky at a particularly beautiful, scintillating star, he thought perhaps another traveler somewhere else along the coast was, like him, looking up at that same star and said, ‘Of what unsuspected triangles are stars the apex?’
197 blocks • 20 days ago