Saturday, February 8, 2014

Almost Spring, Driving Home, Reciting Hopkins : Poem In Your Post

                                                                                                                                                                  First, a glorious poem that both the late, great Maxine Kumin and I learned by heart:

Pied Beauty 

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

                                            - Gerard Manley Hopkins

Now, her lovely, modern experience and expression of it, "Almost Spring, Driving Home, Reciting Hopkins":

“A devout but highly imaginative Jesuit,”
Untermeyer says in my yellowed
college omnibus of modern poets,
perhaps intending an oxymoron, but is it?
Shook foil, sharp rivers start to flow.
Landscape plotted and pieced, gray-blue, snow-pocked
begins to show its margins. Speeding back
down the interstate into my own hills
I see them fickle, freckled, mounded fully
and softened by millennia into pillows.
The priest’s sprung metronome tick-tocks,
repeating how old winter is. It asks
each mile, snow fog battening the valleys,
what is all this juice and all this joy?

We lost a fine, fine poet yesterday, one whose craft appeared effortless and whose keen-eyed response to daily life helps us honor and even transcend it.

May all be well for you always, wherever you are, Ms. Maxine,

p.s.  To learn more about her and her work try: her website, her thorough and respectful NY Times obituary, and her page on the Poetry Foundation's website.


As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I actually thought of you when my husband told me the other night that Maxine Kumin died. He knew her, and I had the great pleasure of meeting her once in her home. My husband continues to be a little weepy at her loss.

Thanks for sharing both her poem and the one that you both memorized.

Laurie said...

For me, her loss is not as visceral because I did not have the good fortune of knowing her personally; I admired her sensibilities and craft from the distance of the page. Please offer my condolences to your husband, E.

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