A Poem for Sunday

I’m not giving up on this yet, despite fairly direct feedback from La that perhaps I should… Stubborn, I guess…  And anyway, what could be better than some poetry to combat the Sunday blues?  Not much that’s legal, I say.

At any rate, today’s unwanted poem comes from Edwin Arlington Robinson, an American poet who Wikipedia informs me won the Pulitzer prize three times in the 1920’s.  I don’t know much about the guy, but I read the below poem during English Lit class my sophomore year in high school, and it has stuck with me ever since.  I think it’s because, to me, it represents such a simple and understandable tragedy — that of time leaving you behind.  Sad, maybe, that I have always seemed to identify with a drunk old man stumbling around on a hillside, but, there you go…  I hope that you will find something within it that resonates as well.

— Bridget

Mr. Flood’s Party

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night
Over the hill between the town below
And the forsaken upland hermitage
That held as much as he should ever know
On earth again of home, paused warily.
The road was his with not a native near;
And Eben, having leisure, said aloud,
For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear:
“Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon
Again, and we may not have many more;
The bird is on the wing, the poet says,
And you and I have said it here before.
Drink to the bird.” He raised up to the light
The jug that he had gone so far to fill,
And answered huskily: “Well, Mr. Flood,
Since you propose it, I believe I will.”
Alone, as if enduring to the end
A valiant armor of scarred hopes outworn,
He stood there in the middle of the road
Like Roland’s ghost winding a silent horn.
Below him, in the town among the trees,
Where friends of other days had honored him,
A phantom salutation of the dead
Rang thinly till old Eben’s eyes were dim.
Then, as a mother lays her sleeping child
Down tenderly, fearing it may awake,
He set the jug down slowly at his feet
With trembling care, knowing that most things break;
And only when assured that on firm earth
It stood, as the uncertain lives of men
Assuredly did not, he paced away,
And with his hand extended paused again:
“Well, Mr. Flood, we have not met like this
In a long time; and many a change has come
To both of us, I fear, since last it was
We had a drop together. Welcome home!”
Convivially returning with himself,
Again he raised the jug up to the light;
And with an acquiescent quaver said:
“Well, Mr. Flood, if you insist, I might.
“Only a very little, Mr. Flood—
For auld lang syne. No more, sir; that will do.”
So, for the time, apparently it did,
And Eben evidently thought so too;
For soon amid the silver loneliness
Of night he lifted up his voice and sang,
Secure, with only two moons listening,
Until the whole harmonious landscape rang—
“For auld lang syne.” The weary throat gave out,
The last word wavered; and the song being done,
He raised again the jug regretfully
And shook his head, and was again alone.
There was not much that was ahead of him,
And there was nothing in the town below—
Where strangers would have shut the many doors
That many friends had opened long ago.
— Edwin Arlington Robinson

The Written World

For as long as I can remember, I have loved books.  As a child, I hoarded them in my room, from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Anne of Green Gables to my brothers’ old Choose-Your-Own-Adventures.  In grade school, I feigned illness so that I was sent to my aunt Francie’s house, where I could sit in my uncle’s big comfy armchair and read from a pretty leather-bound collection by the front window.  I exchanged favorites with my cousin Eileen and raced her through Little Women to see who could finish the biggest book in the school library first.  (After a long time coming to Jesus, Neen, I can finally confess to you that I skipped twenty pages towards the end to secure my victory). 

I spent four years in college studying them, countless hours leafing through them in libraries and bookstores, and many a late night unable to put them down.  Like wine, books make the world rosier, more familiar, easier to appreciate and understand.  They are companions with whom I will spend a lifetime…

I had a father-in-law who loved books as well.  My husband would argue that he loved to buy them, and that it was my mother-in-law who actually read them.  Whatever the facts may be, the truth is that I now think of him when I think of books.  His memory is an extension of that rosy world, as are the homes he welcomed me into in Dublin and Westport – homes that were fittingly chock-full of books.

Tomorrow he will be gone four years.  As happy as I am that he is a part of my book world, we continue to miss him terribly in this one.

– Bridget

Thanks – Abridged 2011 Edition

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.” 

– Ernest Hemingway

1. Parentals. As cliché as it may sound, this year family is striking that gratitude chord in me. With a move from Chicago to DC, my husband and I found that my parent’s invitation to crash in their basement for a few months was a welcome one, and at the very least an economical choice while we acclimate ourselves to the East coast. Yes, I am fast approaching 30 this February and, why yes, thank you Mom, I do like my eggs over medium. To my delight and shock this transition (read: regression) has been nothing short of lovely and I find I am in no particular rush to exit- hope you are reading Mom and Dad! So the long winded “thanks” numero uno is reserved for my p’s – love and thanks.

2. Seeing Eye Dogs. There is little more inspiring to me: I think they are one of the most special creatures on earth and while I do not need their service, I am thankful for those that do.

3. Geese honking. The sound reminds me of Maryland’s Eastern Shore in autumn – best heard on Thanksgiving morning. Two more days – can’t wait.

4. The Movie – Clueless. Perfect fodder for everyday quotes. (“That was way harsh Tai” and “Isn’t my house classic? The columns date all the way back to 1972.”) A perfect answer to any mood.

5. Great In-laws. If I didn’t already know how lucky I am, hearing friends’ horror stories and those never-ending demonic movie representations are a helluva reminder.

6. Vest Weather. Dan calls it “vest weather” and I call it my favorite time of year: fur or fleece, puffy or shearling – yet another nod to the crisp fall that I adore.

7. Memories. They make me a little teary after that third glass of wine or make me laugh out loud (to the annoyance of fellow commuters) on the train ride to work. 

8. Trust. In attempts to make trust tangible, cherished bracelets/rings/necklaces are shared among certain friends as purveyors of trust. Warning: the aforementioned trust exchange most often (and terrifyingly) makes an appearance in shared cab rides home after several cocktails.

9. Hobo Joe. A comforting character I encompass when at my most base: warmth is found in an oversized sweater and you might as well abandon that glass – your wine is best swigged from the paper bag it came in. Mr. Joe is best assumed on cold, rainy afternoons.

10. Wine. And Cheese.

Happy Thanksgiving