Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A POST-IMPRESSIONIST SUSURRATION FOR THE FIRST OF NOVEMBER, by HAYDEN CARRUTH



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A POST-IMPRESSIONIST SUSURRATION FOR THE FIRST OF NOVEMBER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Does anything get more tangled and higgledy-piggledy than the days as they drop
Subject(s): Writing & Writers


Does anything get more tangled and higgledy-piggledy than the days as they drop
all jumbled and
One by one on the historical heap? Not likely. And so we are all, in spite of
ourselves, jackstraw diarists.
This afternoon we went walking on the towpath of the Erie Canal, which was
strangely
Straight and narrow for our devious New England feet. Yet it was beautiful, a
long earthen avenue
Reaching far and straight ahead of us into the shifting veils that hung
everywhere in folds, oaks clinging to their dry leaves,
Bare maples in many shades of gray, the field of goldenrod gone to seed and
burntout asters,
Sumac with dark cones, the brown grasses, and at the far edge, away from the
canal,
A line of trees above which towered there white pines in their singular shapes.
I have never seen a white pine growing naturally that was not unique and
sculpturesque.
Why should one not devote one's life to photographing white pines, as Bentley of
Jericho
Spent his photographing snowflakes? But it's too late, of course. At all
events the colors,
Not forgetting cattails and milkweed, dock and sorbaria, ferns and willows and
barberries,
Were a nearly infinite variety of the soft tones, the subtle tones, made even
more indistinct
In their reflections on the greenish water of the canal. And a light breeze was
blowing.
For once I will risk the word zephyr, which is right and which reminds me of
sapphire,
And I realize that beneath all these colors lay an undertone of blue, the gentle
sky as it curls
Below the penumbra of vision. A small yellow butterfly tricked its way across
the brown field beside us,
And I thought to myself, Where in hell did you come from? Last night was a hard
frost.
And then I knew it had been born this day, perhaps a moment ago, and its life
was fluttering, flickering, trickling out in our presence
As we walked with our hands in a lovers' clasp on the straight towpath beside
the canal that made us think
Of France, of tumbling autumn days, of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of
loves and visions.
Sometimes my woman is half ill, sometimes more than half, because she doesn't
know as much
As people she envies. She writes poems about not knowing, about her anguish
over knowledge,
And when I was her age I felt the same way. Ah I know that anguish. I used to
be pained especially
Because I could not name the colors I saw, and I envied painters their knowledge
of pigments,
I studied the charts of colors and I looked up the names -- mallow, cerise -- in
the dictionary,
I examined the meanings of hue, shade, tone, tint, density, saturation,
brilliance, and so on,
But it did no good. The eye has knowledge the mind cannot share, which is why
painters
So often are inarticulate. Is the eye ignorant, uneducated? How absurd. That
would be impossible.
Hence I became eventually, gradually, unashamed of my mind's incapacity, just as
I had once written
Poems to be read many times, but what was the use of that? Now I write
poems to be read once and forgotten,
Or not to be read at all.


Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org




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