Monday, July 23, 2012

Holding hands with Crazy Jane

I read Yeats when I was young, when love seemed all that mattered. Yeats was a young man's poet, full of passion and longing. Hiding hair and dewy eyes. A girl's white limbs. He was young and foolish. I was young and foolish. The wrong of uncomely things was a wrong to great to be told. Or so it seemed.

Then, maturing a little, I put Yeats behind me. Went on to other poets. Stevens. Nemerov. Moore. Bishop. Poets that had something to say besides pining and whining. Serious poets. Grown-up poets. Or so it seemed.

And now, here I am, seventy-five. Picture and book remain, an acre of grass, midnight, and old house. The ladder's gone. Those masterful images of the mid-life poets grew in pure mind, but out of what? Old kettles, bottles, a broken can. Now I lie down where all ladders start, in the rag and bone shop of the heart.

My temptation is quiet. Neither loose imagination nor the mill of the mind can make the truth known. The work is done. Maybe what they say is true, of life and life's alarms, but O that I were young again and held her in my arms.