Sunday, April 16, 2017

Reading poems, a resurrection #NPM17 #phenology

Some, but not all, celebrate today as Easter Sunday. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, let me wish each of you a joyous day with many peaceful returns. Personally, I find myself leaning more and more each year toward wanting to follow a Native American calendar. It's possible I was overly influenced when I was young by having Spring Is A New Beginning read to me too many times.

April brings pasque flowers
April brings pasque flowers
Photo by J. Harrington

As part of celebrating Easter and Spring and National Poetry Month, I'm happy to announce that the swallows are back in the house we put up years ago to attract purple martins. The blue birds are using the blue bird house. Last night I finally saw a couple of sandhill cranes flying through the neighborhood. There's a pair of wood ducks regularly visiting the small pond up the road. Oak leaf buds continue to swell and turn more green and, this morning, I found a bird feeder the bear dragged into the woods last year. (The afternoon will be spent cleaning and, if possible, reassembling it.)

sandhill cranes in flight
sandhill cranes in flight
Photo by J. Harrington

The Academy of American Poets suggestion to "Deepen your daily experience by reading Edward Hirsch’s essay “How to Read a Poem.” seems highly fitting for today. You might even be interested in learning that there's a book on Poetry As Spiritual Practice. Although I've read that, my copy of  Hirsh's A Poet’s Glossary (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), is largely unread so far, nor had I, until this morning, read his helpful and reassuring essay. At the moment, I'm struggling with a several of Seamus Heaney's poems, in part because Heaney writes poems about topics, or includes references for which I have no frame, such as The Tollund Man. Hirsch informs us trhat we shouldn't expect to know what a poem is about at first reading.

I'm encouraged to find resources such as Hirsch's essay on the interwebs because learning how to read a poem seems like a wonderful antidote to the shortening of my attention span that much of the internet's content seems to be triggering. See what you make of this poem by Hirsch after you've read his essay. For one thing, I see it referring to a different kind of resurrection, or does it?

Early Sunday Morning


By Edward Hirsch


I used to mock my father and his chums
for getting up early on Sunday morning
and drinking coffee at a local spot
but now I’m one of those chumps.

No one cares about my old humiliations
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.

It’s like this: just when you think
you have forgotten that red-haired girl
who left you stranded in a parking lot
forty years ago, you wake up

early enough to see her disappearing
around the corner of your dream
on someone else’s motorcycle
roaring onto the highway at sunrise.

And so now I’m sitting in a dimly lit
café full of early morning risers
where the windows are covered with soot
and the coffee is warm and bitter.


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