Feb 12, 2011


Nomad Exquisite by Wallace Stevens : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.

In order to make this more digestible, here is Part One. If you prefer the post in one longish piece, see yesterday's entry, February 11.

Recently the blogger at Brenda’s Arizona (http://arizonabren.blogspot.com/) mentioned that two days after her beloved Packers won the Super Bowl, she was finishing Steve Martin’s new novel. She found it good in its own right; however, because it deals with painting, she also ended up reflecting on art and the possibility of different kinds of art in dialogue with each other. Maybe it was that suggestion of conversation that made her remember Steve Martin’s banjo skill as a kind of music her father loved. She mentioned all this to her husband and their several rescue dogs.

Robert Frost wrote, “how way leads on to way.” Sports, literature, art, music and their personal associations—don't they create especially fertile ground for the kind of achievable saturation in a life well-lived? A lot if it is luck, but we can create paths that help luck find us, and one step is simply hanging around good writing, music, art, nature (including science), and the people who love them--friends and any family who aren’t biting for the moment.

In Wallace Stevens’ “Nomad Exquisite,” the poet finds a promising inroad to luck in a Florida that's all green, and gold and green, in a “big-finned palm,” in “immense dew” and a “young alligator.” Gerard Manley Hopkins finds it in a soaring, then diving falcon, while Keats drifts into the song of a nightingale and a Grecian urn. These were Gifts some poets found; they passed them on to us.

So am I just perverse and combative in wondering why and how so many bloggers, poets, artists, musicians and music lovers, walkers in nature, athletes and fans can find what they need, while so many among the political conservatives cannot be satisfied unless they’re fighting or exploiting someone?

Redefining wealth along the lines of birds and football and nature walks is fundamental to a wiser, kinder humanity. Yes, we need food, shelter, etcetera before we can care about Beethoven or Steven Martin’s banjo. But get real. Even in the wake of a financial crisis, hundreds of millions of Westerners—the vast majority—have plenty of food and shelter. In fact, referring to their possessions, their stuff as mere “food and shelter” is offensive; it trivializes those who actually are in dire straits.

Yet so many are smiling, thoughtless ravagers and hoarders who hide under the euphemism of “capitalism” and snarl with fear that some disadvantaged group is even hungrier and angrier and will come take away a cubit of their pile of stuff. How ironic it is that it’s groups of their own—bankers, brokers, not the smelly downtrodden--who will creep in at night to steal their stuff.

If this is a brotherhood of tea-loving hoarders, surely their most peculiar members are those plastic straws on Main Street who suck on Glen Beck’s Mindless Milkshakes.

Part 2 coming tomorrow or soon . . .

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