Friday, January 30, 2009

when weather is cold and books are warm...

perhaps it is the wintry weather here in wyoming that had me yesterday, picking up one of my favorite books about landscape (actually one of my favorites about anything!)- views from a tuft of grass, by harry martinson. martinson is an extraordinary writer and thinker, constantly refining, defining, and blurring, the edges between poetry and nature writing - between verse and essay...

i realized ironically, that as i am in the midst of the coldest landscape i’ve ever been, most of martinson’s essays in ‘tuft’ are related to warm weather. in light of that, perhaps i have been unconsciously seeking martinson’s words, not so much beacause i always return to them, but perhaps because in light of my current weather conditions, these words bring me a very different kind of warmth inside than reading him in los angeles... here, some excerpts from “summer - play of the senses”, 1963

“perhaps summer gives its most heartfelt and penetrating performance for your senses on a windless day in july when summer’s warmth is guaranteed even in the shade. that’s when you can sit and listen to the richest song of the summer pastures - the buzzing song of insects.

most birds become quiet around midsummer or slightly thereafter. they follow the cuckoo’s example. but when the cuckoo is at its most silent and keeps utterly quiet for the rest of the year, that’s when the buzzing song of the insects starts up in earnest and continues for two months. with innumerable instrumentalists around each and every bush and flower, the elf orchestra plays on day in and day out without fatigue, and with rainy or windy days as the only rests.

many people listen in an absent-minded or distracted way to this performance. a few might even claim that they never hear anything. but if that buzzing song were to end, and if a summer against all odds became silent of insects - bee silent, bumblebee silent, hover fly silent, and without the sounds of crickets - then it would be noticed by everybody as a dead and voiceless summer...

there is good reason to believe that fragrances are the thoughts of flowers. whereas it is true that we have not so far been able to translate these thoughts into something resembling our own, the nose has its hunches. it knows, or let us say, it suspects, that a summer meadow is filled with as many ways of thinking and dreaming as any good library is with thoughts and dreams expressed in characters and words.

once i experienced how a bouquet of violets - with its fragrance - recited a four line stanza so beautiful and rare i was simply unable to capture it in words. i simply felt it would remain there forever, like an unwritten fragrance poem on a violet’s life and circumstances. if you try to translate things like this into words you always fail; it becomes a strange and lost way of sobbing with words. but the nose knows better. the nose is the real flower poet, the meadow’s acute mind reader. and even if it is looked upon with irony by the other four senses, it still sniffs along among the smells of summer, proudly aware of its own way of knowing...”

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Blogger ArtSparker said...

Emily Dickinson:

Further in Sumer than the Birds
Pathetic from the Grass
A minor Nation celebrates
Its unobtrusive Mass.

No Ordinance be seen
So gradual the Grace
A pensive custom it becomes
Enlarging Loneliness.

Antiquest flet at Noon
When August burning low
Arise the spectral Canticle
Repose to typify

Remit as yet no Grace
No furrow on the Glow
Yet a Druidic Difference
Enhances Nature now.

I'm actually no that familiar with Emily Dickinson, I recalled this from a version set to music by the Fibonaccis in the (late?) 80s.

10:07 AM  

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