Sunday, April 25, 2010

This is just to say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

... actually, no. I did not eat the plums that were in the icebox. But when I wrote out this blog post title, that lovely little W.C. Williams poem came rather naturally into my head.

This is, in fact, just to say that I have posted every day for the past two weeks, which hasn't happened since I first started this blog. At first I thought April 2010 set a new personal record for most blog posts in a month, and then I realized that August 2005 had thirty-three. That was my first month in St. John's, and indeed the first full month of this blog. One day I will look at the prolific stretches this blog has had and compare them to the empty stretches and try and remember what was going on in my life at the time, and see if I can't figure out what combination of factors leads me to blog or not.

Further to the poetry above, I may as well give this post some substance and make it, in part, a celebration of vividly brief poetry—something at which William Carlos Williams was a master. His most famous, of course, is:

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

As much as I generally loathe the poetry of Ezra Pound (which, I will admit, gets complicated with my loathing of Pound the person), he had a couple of gems, usually when he was keeping things brief. He loved haiku—and for a time advocated that kind of short, vivid, imagistic poetry ... an advocacy he sadly abandoned later in his career when he wrote his voluminous and opaque Cantos. But he gets it right with this two-line poem titled "In a Station of the Metro":

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

These three poems will always be linked in my mind, because of something I saw while I taking a course on modernist literature in my first year at York. Williams and Pound were both on the reading list, and we studied all three of these poems and many, many more. There was construction at the time being done in the field across the way from Winters College, and on the temporary fence erected around the site, someone—someone, I like to think, taking the same class as me—spraypainted:

this is just to say
so much depends upon
the apparition of these faces in the crowd

I love the memory of that as much as I loved seeing it at the time. Modernism mash-up!

2 comments:

Fred said...

In thinking and looking back on past blogs, here is my little attempt at honouring past ideas, and modernist poerty. Five years already, as old as Facebook, and like most diaries will expand in time. Congrats and don't ponder too long on the gaps between blog entries. Sometimes life and laundry and most other things just get in the way.

Those that were here
Are gone
And I am arranging
Things to await

The newcomers
There is no time to polish
Nor wipe away the few
Scratches on the floor

Things will remain
As they are
Reflecting
My arrangements.

Teebore said...

I adore W.C. William's poems (especially "This Is just to say").

I once spent the majority of a poetry class in college leading the charge defending the vividness and impact of his words, despite their scarcity in relation to other, wordier poems.