A Bog or Clog in the World’s Sub-Sewage*

February 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

Bog Turtle

I should be working, but I still have a faint glow of wine from last night and the snow is still falling, the cats are asleep and I feel like writing without knowing where I’m going. Hence, blog post.

Remember how everyone hated that word ‘blog’ at first? A piece of writing like a blob or a bog? Please! Of course, it’s proved very apt and for those of us who like to think we’re not too blobby, a bog is really a wonderful thing. I always gravitated to the wet places in my moody teens (as distinct from my pellucid adulthood). I liked November and March, cloudy days, damp ground, water seeping into my shoes.

My mother wasn’t overly concerned but she did remark on my wet feet and my stepfather made (mostly harmless) fun of my meanderings in the dark wastes. So I learned that not everyone is riveted by the beauty of gray, purple and maroon leaves/mud/ skies; the damp doesn’t feel cozy to all; nor does the smell of water (sans beaches or sparkle) makes them feel poetry steaming in their brains.

I’ve lost that. Now I like the days sunny or snowy. I like light, white, bright; the bog of age has me in its close embrace and I dream of soaring.

My moods when I was young were social terror, loneliness, longing, desire, aesthetic ecstasy, joy and rage. I felt so much hostility it took constant work to contain it (which I tried so hard to do because I feared extreme punishment); now, when I despair, what comes to mind is: why not make someone else happy?

It’s a welcome change, though I don’t act on it nearly enough. I adore the cat or answer the phone without making the caller feel like he/she interrupted me butchering babies. So much of my kindness in the past was reward related and I’m not feeling that much anymore. I’m inching toward purity of heart at the same time the dynamism of ambition and anxiety fades. Where will it all lead?

* Ezra Pound’s description of London. One of the great insults of all time.

Song of Autumn

I

Soon we shall plunge into the cold darkness;
Farewell, vivid brightness of our short-lived summers!
Already I hear the dismal sound of firewood
Falling with a clatter on the courtyard pavements.

All winter will possess my being: wrath,
Hate, horror, shivering, hard, forced labor,
And, like the sun in his polar Hades,
My heart will be no more than a frozen red block.

All atremble I listen to each falling log;
The building of a scaffold has no duller sound.
My spirit resembles the tower which crumbles
Under the tireless blows of the battering ram.

It seems to me, lulled by these monotonous shocks,
That somewhere they’re nailing a coffin, in great haste.
For whom? — Yesterday was summer; here is autumn
That mysterious noise sounds like a departure.

II

I love the greenish light of your long eyes,
Sweet beauty, but today all to me is bitter;
Nothing, neither your love, your boudoir, nor your hearth
Is worth as much as the sunlight on the sea.

Yet, love me, tender heart! be a mother,
Even to an ingrate, even to a scapegrace;
Mistress or sister, be the fleeting sweetness
Of a gorgeous autumn or of a setting sun.

Short task! The tomb awaits; it is avid!
Ah! let me, with my head bowed on your knees,
Taste the sweet, yellow rays of the end of autumn,
While I mourn for the white, torrid summer!

— Charles Baudelaire, (trans. William Aggeler), The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

Here’s Luke Kelly singing, “The Foggy Dew,” a favorite of mine once

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