Friday, June 29, 2012

Poetry Friday: I'm Sorry, Atticus, I Just Can't Do It

At least not very well. Not today.

Given that we were recently in Florida, and given that Wallace Stevens has always been one of Atticus's favorite poets, and given that it is Poetry Friday, Atticus suggested that I post a Stevens poem, "O Florida, Venereal Soil" and he suggested that I do it "without groping after some epistemological objective categorizing of the deeply subjective reactions reflected in the verse."

Gee, do I do that?

He went on to say, quoting John Keats, "In other words, 'be capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason....'"

But, um, I always do that irritable reaching. I thought he found it endearing. And I so often do it on Poetry Fridays.

But not always, really. Right? I am highly qualified to live in uncertainty, mystery and doubt. I'm a Catholic. It doesn't get more mysterious than that. And I sometimes post just the poem, sans any torturous reflection on my part: such as here and here and here and here and here and here. (Methinks I protest too much?)

I am capable, as William Hurt said in this clip, of just letting art flow over me. (Please go watch that thirty-second clip on YouTube. That line has always made me very happy.)

But, I can't post about Wallace Stevens -- I can't even think about Wallace Stevens -- without thinking. Long and hard, about a number of things. His life as both insurance executive and poet is fodder for scrutiny, and that's before we even get to his body of work. He was an interesting, perplexing human being. And I can't think about Florida, and travel, and real life vs. vacations, and how randomly we all seem to land in various geographical areas without that sparking some reflection.

And of course, all of that leads to a new stream of thought: Stevens isn't alone as poetry-writing insurance executive. The 13th U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser had the same Paper-Pusher-By-Day-Deep-Thinker-By-Night existence (though they are obviously extremely different types of poets). And that brings me to the poem posted at The Writer's Almanac today -- Kooser's "So This Is Nebraska" ... and that means I've gone full circle from Nebraska to Florida and home again.

Not only that, but on today's Writer's Almanac page, there is also a mention of the birthday of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and that brings me to a quote from The Little Prince: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

And if I believe that, I must be capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts ... and I am capable of that. Just not, clearly, capable of posting a Wallace Stevens poem without saying something. And nothing.

And, sadly, now, I'm thinking I should've just posted some Keats.

Maybe next week.


The Poetry Friday round up is at Paper Tigers.


tanita davis said...

*falls over giggling*

I can't do it, either, if that helps you. I am certainly not as deep as you (or as Atticus - gee, "groping after some epistemological objective"??? Really?!), but I find that I rarely can just post a poem and let it be.

Hm. Will have to work up toward that. Or else, find some more Keats...

Marjorie said...

:-) I love your 'ramblings'!

Julie Larios said...

When William Hurt says "Let art flow over you," maybe he (and Atticus?) mean "flow" not like Burns's "Flow gently, sweet Afton" but more like this:
No one could even stand up in that river! And sometimes, gloriously, you can't stand up in Wallace Stevens' poetry either. You just close your eyes, turn off your mind, and go with "the flow."

Melanie B said...

I'm rather glad you didn't just post some Keats. I think I'm too tired for Wallace Stevens; but I did love the Kooser, those pickup trucks settling back to watch the clouds.... I suddenly want to go to Nebraska....

Lissa said...

I remember thinking in my early twenties, when I had a mad crush on Keats because of his letters, that he was preternaturally wise for his years with that "no irritable reaching after fact" business...but somewhere in my thirties I decided he was, um, thinking like a guy in his early twenties. :) Now I simply think he's adorable. And I go on reaching after reason, though seldom irritably.

Ramble on, my dear; you always find a trail I'm eager to follow.

Karen Edmisten said...

Tanita, we aren't deep, just verbose.
Marjorie, thank you!
Julie -- yes. :)
Melanie, come to Nebraska soonest.
Lissa, no worries ... rambling is what I do best.