Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Two poems with about one hundred years between them



Winter Fields

O for a pleasant book to cheat the sway
Of winter -- where rich mirth with hearty laugh
Listens and rubs his legs on corner seat
Foe fields are mire and sludge -- and badly off
Are those who on their pudgy paths delay
There striding shepherd seeking driest way
Fearing nights wetshod feet and hacking cough
That keeps him waken till the peep of day
Goes shouldering onward and with ready hook
Progs oft to ford the sloughs that nearly meet
Across the lands -- croodling and thin to view
His loath dog follows -- stops and quakes and looks
For better roads -- till whistled to pursue
Then on with frequent jump he hirkles through


Blizzard in Cambridge

Risen from the blindness of teaching to bright snow,
and everything mechanical stopped dead:
taxis thumbs-down on fares, tires burning the ice;
wet eye, iced eyelash, spring-wear; subways held,
too jammed and late to wait for passengers;
to snow-trekking the mile from subway end to airport,
to all-flights-cancelled, to the queues congealed
to telephones out of order, to the groping buses,
to rich, stranded New Yorkers staring with the wild, mild eyes
of steers at the foreign subway -- then the train home,
rolling with stately scorn: an hour in Providence,
another in New Haven -- in darkness seeing
white arsenic numbers on the tail of a downed plane,
the smokestacks of abandoned fieldguns burning skyward.

3 comments:

Don Share said...

Ray Di Palma writes:

H'lo Don,

If you've still got your John Clare handy his 'Snow Storm' is worth a moment's read. Its opening words to be later echoed in Pound's parody 'Winter is icumen in' . . . containing Ez's mordant/urban observation: "Skiddeth bus/and sloppeth us/Lhude sing Goddamm".

As for the original "Sumer is icumen in" and what's attendant upon it--that'll have to wait.

Best,
RAY

Actually, I almost posted that poem of Clare's - but couldn't resist "hirkles"!!

I actually think Clare and Lowell to be two sides of one [bad metaphor:] coin. I said so on FB to much ridicule, but am writing this up. Wild sonneteers/crazy men in harsh landscape/no one place to lay their heads.... I'd say more about here were it not for the hate mail I get every time I say something about Lowell.

Jordan said...

> something about Lowell

Guilty as charged. But I knew this whole post had to be about "hirkles" --

mgushuedc said...

Winter Fields! One of my all time favorites. But don't forget "progs" either.

I think we need to do a serious analysis of the knee jerk reaction to Lowell--it would bring to light a lot of our current assumptions and prejudices. What *exactly* are people objecting to in Lowell?