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Ghosts as Cocoons

August 11, 2011

For the past few weeks I have been struggling with new ideas and feeling inarticulate. It’s an unusual state for me.

There are lots of things I’m working on that haven’t quite taken shape yet. I’m not sure what they’ll look like when they’re finished, and I can’t simplify or rush them, because then they won’t come out right, in their proper fullness and fruition.

When I went looking for a poem that says something of how all this feels, I knew it would have to be by Wallace Stevens:

Ghosts as Cocoons

The grass is in seed. The young birds are flying.
Yet the house is not built, not even begun.

The vetch has turned purple. But where is the bride?
It is easy to say to those bidden—But where,

Where, butcher, seducer, bloodman, reveller,
Where is sun and music and highest heaven’s lust,

For which more than any words cries deeplier?
This mangled, smutted semi-world hacked out

Of dirt. . . It is not possible for the moon
To blot this with its dove-winged blendings.

She must come now. The grass is in seed and high.
Come now. Those to be born have need

Of the bride, love being a birth, have need to see
And to touch her, have need to say to her,

“The fly on the rose prevents us, O season
Excelling summer, ghost of fragrance falling

On dung.” Come now, pearled and pasted, bloomy-leafed,
While the domes resound with chant involving chant.

A “season/excelling summer”? How can I possibly have need of such a thing? And yet, “she must come now.”

I must be able to build a new structure for my work at the local college and for dealing with the details of Eleanor’s daily life at a far-away one. But the words for these chants don’t come easily. Some days they don’t come at all. I need a few more days to think.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2011 9:07 am

    There is a certain restlessness to this time of year. No matter what phase of life you’re in, there’s always something (school, etc) that you have to turn and pay attention to, get ready for, even though (speaking for myself here) all you’d rather do is bask in the sun and listen to the cicadas. That seems to be all I can muster the energy for lately.

  2. August 11, 2011 9:21 am

    That’s exactly it–I’m not feeling the restlessness yet. I need a few more days of sun and evenings of cicadas. But events are overtaking me.

  3. August 11, 2011 9:32 am

    This is beautiful. You make me appreciate poetry so much more!

    • August 11, 2011 9:39 am

      Melissa, your comment gives me a smile to start my day. Thanks!

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