After my long post the other day about meaning in poetry, I keep hearing Archibald MacLeish’s line in my head: “A poem should not mean but be.”
And Grace Paley’s “Responsibility.”
I am in the midst of trying to bring to birth a poem that I think might be titled “The Shaman’s Lexicon.” Perhaps I need to write my own “Ars Poetica,” my own “Responsibility.” Getting caught up in the whirlwind of a compelling poetic idea reminds me again that despite the thought-provoking analysis of even the most careful critics, when it comes down to it, writing poetry is an art, and that like a visual artist, a poet is often following the trail of an obsessive idea. The process is less about seeking meaning, perhaps, and more about relieving the curiosity of what lies beyond the next turning.
1. A Christmas Carol. Joss discovered Grandma Kreider’s unabridged copy with gorgeous illustrations and asked Jon to read it to him. They spent hours with it, Jon explaining some of the denser bits and skipping some of the longer bits of of description, and finally made it through. Joss was engrossed. I’ll admit to openly weeping when the Spirit of Christmas Future showed Scrooge the Cratchit house after the death of Tiny Tim. I hope we can make that a tradition. Now I am going to try to finish The Best Christmas Pageant Ever with them today.
2. Dawn in the hollow, sun shining on frost. The chickens used to get me up and out to see it every day. Now, most days, I am on the road before the dawn spreads her rosy fingers over the sky, and I have bequeathed the chickens to friend who will be a less distracted caretaker. So I am grateful this morning for the wee sleekit mousie who needed repatriation in the upper fields.
3. Advice Rebound: I told a friend the other day, in that advice-giving tone that I can’t seem to make myself stop using: “You need to take a break, carve out time just for yourself.” I could feel those words bouncing back on me as I said them.
4. Dreams. I am gleaning my dreams for the messages of the year, here in the bowl of Twelvenight.
5. The murmurings and mutterings of the children playing together in the background.
May we walk in Beauty!