Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chet Raymo, "What Has Been So Long Composed"

 
"What Has Been So Long Composed"
by Chet Raymo
 
"We have a sea horizon to the east. The sun comes up like a blaze of molten gold, a river of gold that flows across the sea to the surf at my feet. First a sliver, then a blister, then a bubble floating free. We arrived on this tropic isle in mid-December when the sun was at its southernmost extremity. Day by day it has been creeping northward, each sunrise edging, it seems, our way. The planet leans into its curve, tilting its northern hemisphere toward its star, grazing on the solar warmth. On Sunday, March 20, the sun will rise due east, there, just there, beyond my coffee cup. The equinox. Time to return to New England, "at the end of winter when afternoons return."

    “The Poems Of Our Climate”
 by Wallace Stevens

   “I
    Clear water in a brilliant bowl,
    Pink and white carnations. The light
    In the room more like a snowy air,
    Reflecting snow. A newly-fallen snow
    At the end of winter when afternoons return.
    Pink and white carnations - one desires
    So much more than that. The day itself
    Is simplified: a bowl of white,
    Cold, a cold porcelain, low and round,
    With nothing more than the carnations there.

    II
    Say even that this complete simplicity
    Stripped one of all one's torments, concealed
    The evilly compounded, vital I
    And made it fresh in a world of white,
    A world of clear water, brilliant-edged,
    Still one would want more, one would need more,
    More than a world of white and snowy scents.

    III
    There would still remain the never-resting mind,
    So that one would want to escape, come back
    To what had been so long composed.
    The imperfect is our paradise.
    Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
    Since the imperfect is so hot in us,
    Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.”

Say, yes, that even in this complete simplicity, this sunrise, this coffee cup, this sky of violet and molten gold, there is still this longing for the college library, those endless shelves of books, those journals, those flawed words and stubborn sounds. The never-resting mind. The imperfect paradise, that twenty-three-and-a-half degree tilt, that random whirl in the pre-solar nebula, the Earth spinning on its way atilt like a drunken sailor. Want more, need more. More than a world of violet and molten gold.”

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