Sonnets in Search of an Author
By William Carlos Williams
Nude bodies like peeled logs
sometimes give off a sweetest
odor, man and woman
under the trees in full excess
matching the cushion of
aromatic pine-drift fallen
threaded with trailing woodbine
a sonnet might be made of it
Might be made of it! odor of excess
odor of pine needles, odor of
peeled logs, odor of no odor
other than trailing woodbine that
has no odor, odor of a nude woman
sometimes, odor of a man.
From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, a column with the explanation that "sonnets are supposed to follow rules. A sonnet should have 14 lines. There's a two-line couplet at the end in some schemes. In its originating form it is expected to use elaborate language and to involve romantic love." Williams, he adds, did all of that "in a poem that also mocks the very idea of a sonnet...even the ecstatic repetitions, like the rhyme of "other/odor," fulfill traditional expectation in a way that also gives the expectation a kind of exploding cigar."
Saturday we made up for a week of chaos by having a perfectly lovely day that began with a two-hour-plus drive to Historic St. Mary's City, the original capital of Maryland (before Annapolis), which was in the midst of a maritime heritage festival. This means that in addition to getting to see the Maryland Dove -- a square-rigged ship replica of the original Dove, which along with the Ark crossed the Atlantic to land Lord Baltimore's colony and establish the trade for which Maryland became known (unfortunately, tobacco) as well as the first Catholic church in the English colonies and the first printing press in the region -- there were a number of other ships, including a Chesapeake Bay skipjack, the 17th century replica jolly boat Parrot and the 16th century long boat Silver Chalice. The Chanteymen of Ship's Company were also performing, along with Charlie Zahm, and they gave a hands-on-audience demonstration of capstan and line songs as well as encouraging the men to get up and dance together as if they were on deck.
St. Mary's is in the process of restoring the buildings that originally comprised the town: the Woodland Indian village (abandoned by the time the city was built) has two intact homes and the tobacco plantation has a working farm as well as the complete house and barn, but the church and most of the settlers' houses are only wooden outlines or partially built while excavation continues to find artifacts no one wants to bury under reconstructions. The state house has been rebuilt and Farthing's Ordinary, an inn which is now a shop, while the print house is being worked on now and the printing press is set up in the visitor's center. They had a craft tent for kids today where they could make pirate flags and clay sea monsters (because what nautical festival is complete without pirates and sea monsters), and a camp of pre-Revolution militia reenactors.
Because I could not be so close to the Chesapeake Bay without putting my feet in the water, we left at five when the exhibits closed and went to Elm's Park Beach, which encompasses a lake, a playground and a beautiful sand-and-shell shore of the bay. We had not brought suits due to lingering chicken pox but we did wade and look for shells for awhile. Then we drove to Solomons for dinner and walked around the marina and lighthouse while waiting for our table. We had our family Father's Day dinner a night early and figured we could not waste being by the Bay (we'll have dinner tomorrow with my father after picking him up from the airport but we couldn't afford to take him to a place like this!) so younger son and I got lobster tail stuffed with crab meat, apaulled and older son got crab cakes and we all had most excellent crab soup. We didn't get back home till after 10, at which point I had to write three very quick articles, but hey, I got them done, so I can now go out tomorrow for the Alexandria Waterfront Festival without guilt!
I took a great many photos today and will spread them out over the week. For now, photos specifically of the maritime festival...
Here's a closer look at the Dove being approached by her carpenter, who was scolded...
...because when the crew was ready to demonstrate the firing of the signal cannon, he was in the way, insisting that they couldn't possibly hit him at that distance!
And here's another, rowing by the Silver Chalice and a team of admirers.
The view of the river from the stern of the Maryland Dove.
Ship's Company and some of the reenactors demonstrating which beats to heave and which beats to rest during a chantey. My son joined them on the ropes a minute later.
Like I asked before, what's a maritime festival without pirates?
Happy Father's Day!