The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

From Leaves of Grass, "Song of Myself" Section 52
By Walt Whitman

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my
        gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.


From Poet's Choice, now by Robert Pinsky in the Sunday Washington Post Book World. Pinsky's first column is about "our national poets, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson," and how they wrote about poetry. "Whitman accepts the notion that poetry may be silly, a matter of gab and loitering rather than purpose," notes Pinsky, though Whitman also claims that poetry is of national and global importance, reaching into the future in ways the poet may not even imagine. In the fragment above, "He is accused by the hawk, and he is the hawk. He is under your bootsoles, and he is over the roofs of the world. You in the future may not know who he is or what he means, but he will be in your very bloodstream." Dickinson, on the other hand, sees the poet as smaller but a scope just as grand:

The Poets Light but Lamps
By Emily Dickinson

The Poets light but Lamps --
Themselves -- go out --
The Wicks they stimulate --
If vital Light

Inhere as do the Suns --
Each Age a Lens
Disseminating their
Circumference --


And all right, I miss Edward Hirsch's three-year tenure in the Poet's Choice column already, but no one who starts with a barbaric yawp can be too bad.

Spent the entire day snowed in, so you'd think I would have had time to catch up on all kinds of things, but when one is snowed in with children, somehow the day becomes very involved in keeping them busy. My younger son's Hebrew school was cancelled as was a birthday party he was supposed to attend, originally moved from 3:30 to 1:30, then called off altogether when the hands-on science people couldn't get to the party so the kids could make slime. We expect that our older son will not have Hebrew school tomorrow, and the county already planned no classes on Monday because of teacher's meetings, so hopefully I will not have three straight days of not being able to go anywhere with the kids! We got perhaps five inches of snow today, but more is expected to fall overnight, and our little neighborhood has not yet been plowed.

Thanks so much everyone who sent regards for my father -- he spent the day resting at home (I suppose the weather was perfect for lying around recuperating, no temptation to go anywhere or do anything), and it sounds like he is feeling much better. Had the weather been slightly better we might have gone over to watch a movie with my parents but the snow fell steadily all day, so we stuck close to home, and the kids surprised both of us by wanting to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban -- like I was going to turn that down! Also to my surprise, my younger son wanted to get under my afghan with me -- this is cuddlier than he has been since starting second grade, I think. So after the obligatory attempts at shoveling and brushing off the vans, which were covered again half an hour after being cleaned off, we sat around eating popcorn, watching the movie and playing all the games on the second DVD. (Speaking of POA: Have I no friend will rid me of these pesky Britpicks? Please? See previous entry!)

I did take snow photos, and shall post some tomorrow, but you can get an idea from beeej and sparowe among others what the Maryland-DC-Virginia region was like during the storm. The greatest excitement in our house all day was that both gerbils decided to come out at the same time, and they were quite friendly and groomed each other, and much butt-sniffing ensued. So, for old time's sake, I bring you...

A Tale of Aragorn and Boromir!
For the uninitiated, Aragorn and Boromir are my sons' gerbils. For many months they shared a single cage and starred in their own gerbil soap opera, snuggling adorably when they were not off on adventures with Legolas and Gimli. Then Boromir came under the influence of the Ring and the Dark Cat, Cinnamon, and after a vicious biting incident was moved into his own cage.

These days Aragorn (the lighter gerbil) spends most of his time being a Ranger on his wheel while Boromir (the darker gerbil) attempts to rebuild Osgiliath out of toilet paper rolls and paper towels. They spent an active morning gnawing their halves of a cut-up paper towel roll to increase their massive mound-nests -- very necessary to keep warm even in the kitchen where they live.

This, for instance, is Boromir's hidey-hole, consisting of chewed-up cardboard, torn-up paper towels and commercial cage fluff. When Boromir is asleep, we can only see the tip of his nose sticking out the top of the volcano cone, and when he decides to emerge, the nest erupts all over the cage and onto the kitchen floor.

By evening, however, Aragorn and Boromir were bored, and when I opened Aragorn's cage to give him food, he climbed over my hand and up the side of the cage. This is a very dangerous activity as Cinnamon is always watching when a cage is open, ever vigilant for the opportunity to attack and eat the rightful King of Gondor. Boromir quickly insisted upon following, and the two of them spent many happy minutes running around on top of their cages looking for a way to dive into the cups full of pennies behind them (currently empty as the pennies have been donated to tsunami relief).

Aragorn can never resist an opportunity to sniff Boromir's butt. Sometimes Boromir plays hard-to-get and pretends that he does not like this, but tonight was not one of those nights.

Truth be told, Boromir is rather fond of sniffing Aragorn's butt as well, but he's usually too quick for the camera to catch a Captain of Gondor engaged in such an activity in public.

But Aragorn and Boromir's mutual favorite activity seems to be for Aragorn to groom Boromir's face. Sometimes they attempt to do this between the bars of their cages, standing on the upper levels. Unfortunately if it goes on for too long, Boromir inevitably decides he's had enough and tries to bite Aragorn, so he must be returned to his cage before the evil influence of the Ring and Cinnamon can be felt.

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