Friday, September 01, 2006

Better Than Ezra(?)

BE in me as the eternal moods
of the bleak wind, and not
As transient things are—
gaiety of flowers.
Have me in the strong loneliness
of sunless cliffs
And of gray waters.
Let the gods speak softly of us
In days hereafter,
the shadowy flowers of Orcus
Remember thee.

-Ezra Pound, 1885-1972

On the other hand:


Afternoon on a Hill

I WILL be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down!

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950). from Renascence and Other Poems. 1917.


Compare and contrast, children. Essays due Tuesday. Blue books on Friday next.

5 comments:

stella said...

The scary thing about living on a hill--even for an afternoon, I suppose--is that it implies tetherlessness. It suggests that we have no bonds, no mother. Who will know where we've gone? Who will watch out for us? Who will pick us up if we skin our knee? Or even know? And what if people find out that we're so dissolute that even our mother doesn't care that we've disappeared?
But what's dissolute about bowing down with the wind and grass to nature? And seeding yourself along with the wildflowers? And perhaps gaining the perspective to mark what is yours? If that's what you so desperately need?
Also, you know, Millay did go to Vassar.

The Frito Pundito said...

Let's rate them side by side (Teacher:
I tried to make a table, but the html tags were NOT ALLOWED):

Word count - Ezra: 50 Edna: 61
Advantage: Edna

Lines - Ezra: 12 Edna: 12
Advantage: Even

Rhymes - Ezra: No Edna: Yes
(and the good kind of rhymes, not “light” and “light”)
Advantage: Depends on how you feel about rhyming

Requisite “downer” mood - Ezra: Yes Edna: No
Advantage: Ezra

Dense language - Ezra: Yes Edna: No
Advantage: Ezra!

Strange use of archaic English formal tense in last line - Ezra: Yes Edna: No
Advantage: Ezra!!

References to obscure figures from Greek mythology - Ezra: Yes Edna: No
Advantage: Ezra! Ezra! Ezra!

Ability to be understood by common folk - Ezra: No Edna: Yes
Advantage: So what?

There you are. Ezra wins! Modernists everywhere celebrate.

Middle Manager said...

Hmmm...can I get an extension on this assignment? =)

kissyface said...

Stella -

Lovely, what you wrote. On the nose, Lady. Tetherlessness ties up the majority of my fears so neatly. It's why I hate breakups, fallings-out, indifferences, transient relationships and being uprooted. It's why I hated working on productions - all that intense togetherness, and then, nothing. I often feel, without those battens, that I could just blow away and no one would really notice or even mind. Wanting to "matter" to others is clearly an assertion of ego, but that is what gives us our sense of identity and allows us the strength to build, such as bonds with other human beings. The tetherlessness comes directly from an experience of a childhood with too many empty chambers - no one around much, no one coming home too often until quite late, and then when they did return, too much trouble, too much noise. Too much time without channels and guidance and care, then conversely, overly demanding, harsh and just plain angry. This naturally leads to dissolution and, as my mother liked to say, "frittering away your time." A child left to her own devices probably builds patterns and a sense of time belonging to a child, and not a focused adult.

There is nothing wrong with bowing down to nature, maybe even to your own true nature. We'd all be further along were that the tendency of most people.

Of course, you know what they say about Vassar girls...

Anonymous said...

it took me a long time to figure out I could do a day that was less than exceptional and still be allowed into fields of flowers; That I can be as happy as I care to be without it being dependent on that which was happening around me; That I can twirl around the world; there are days that gravity can't keep me down. But in the darker watches of the night it is good to be "tethered" to that "silent loneliness". I need my pain, my solitude: I need to know sadness also.
Whoever it was in the garden that lived without pain, or labor or care, how could he have been happy; How could he have been Man?
(if I knew all that I could speak for my self) Steve