In Eugene, Oregon this week – which means good food, good talk, and walks by the Willamette River.
A friend this week asked me if Ohio had made its way into my writing since moving there a year ago. Not having thought on this subject before, I was surprised at my response, mainly that moving around so much places me back into myself, back into the places I have known.
The Ohio, the Willamette, the Rio Grande, the Susquehanna – the waters I have known are all connected, in the words I write and in the, uhm, science-y geographical way too.
The poem below, from The Penguin Book of Chinese Verse, shares some of this feeling. I am moved by the image of a man sleeping on the current, trusting to wake up in the same world, if only a little different.
At the riverside village – Ssu-kung Shu
My fishing done, I have returned, but do not moor my boat;
At the riverside village the moon will set just as I go to sleep.
Even if during the night the wind wafts me away,
I shall only reach the shallows where the rushes bloom.
The flowers fly – why so fast?
As I grow old, I wish that spring would linger.
What a pity that scenes of joy
Came not all in my youth and prime!
To set free the mind there must be wine,
To set forth one’s feelings nothing is better than poetry.
This thought you, T’ao Ch’ien, would understand,
But my life has come after your time.
I can tell the semester’s over because I have begun going on walks in the mornings again. Doing so has allowed me to make the following observation which I will pose as a question: Did you know it’s Spring?
The semester ended last week and one telltale sign of how busy I’ve been is how I’ve neglected to look up (or around for that matter) and really take in what’s been happening. I mean, I haven’t been completely oblivious: I have found hyacinths sneaking into my daily writing. Ani’s good about pointing things out. There’s also been an increase of birds in our neighborhood. Cardinals and robins kinda point themselves out 🙂
This week, I share two poems from The Penguin Book of Chinese Verse which I read last summer when we first landed here in Cincinnati. I like to start each season by reading the work of early Chinese and Japanese poets for their poetry’s ability to encompass not only the universe but nature, and not only nature meaning the outside world, but the nature of the heart.
While I may have neglected the official start of Spring, I like to think I’m up to date with the change of season in my daily life.
Bees – Lo Yin
Down in the plain, and up on the mountain-top,
All nature’s boundless glory is their prey.
But when they have sipped from a hundred flowers and made honey,
For whom is this toil, for whom this nectar?