The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Sunday

I Am
By John Clare

I AM -- yet what I am, none cares or knows;
  My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am the self-consumer of my woes --
  They rise and vanish in oblivion's host,
Like shadows in love frenzied stifled throes
  And yet I am, and live -- like vapors tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
  Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
  But the vast shipwreck of my lifes esteems;
Even the dearest that I love the best
  Are strange -- nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man hath never trod
  A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator God,
  And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
  The grass below, above, the vaulted sky.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, a poem that Robert Pinsky calls "a sublime song from what some might call self-pity." Pinsky suggests the inherent solitude, even loneliness, of lyric poetry, saying "that feeling has rarely been expressed with more conviction, in less space," than in Clare's poem" "The intensity of his 'vast shipwreck' where those he loves are 'stranger than the rest' comes from his lonely heart, candidly and entirely personal. That viewpoint underlines the poignancy of his craving for an 'untroubling and untroubled' sleep."

After a somewhat chaotic morning -- during which I tried to write up Star Trek news (Kate Mulgrew on women over 50, Rick Berman on divorcing Trek) while apaulled took younger son to a soccer game that started and ended late -- we went to Baltimore with my in-laws to the USS Constellation's Festival of the Sea, which included crafts for kids on the pier, live music, a talk on Civil War submarines and a bull roast that we did not attend, though we were invited as members. My in-laws had never been on the ship, which has been turned since we were last aboard her so that her prow again faces the harbor rather than the shops; apparently they have decided to turn her regularly so that the sides of the ship wear evenly. We spent time particularly in the officer's quarters (my father-in-law, a pastor, was interested in the chaplain's berth) and in the sickbay (my mother-in-law, a lab technician, was interested in the surgical tools, such as they were). As part of the festivities, kicked off last weekend in Fells Point when many of the ships participating in the Great Schooner Race to Save the Bay were on display, there was a sailboat race in the harbor; the Constellation crew decided to fire the bow chaser to welcome the winner, so we got an extended lecture on gunnery in the US Navy and a firing demonstration.

We were hoping to go to Rockets and Robots Day at the Maryland Science Center, but the kids were tired and hungry -- it had taken us a long time to get to Baltimore due to ridiculous traffic on the Beltway, which was even worse when we returned home as people poured into College Park to celebrate Virginia's utter meltdown the Terrapins' brilliant come-from-behind victory at football. We, however, did not know about it until we saw all the cars at the New Hampshire Avenue exit and switched the radio from Saturday night flashback disco to sports, thus discovering that we had missed this triumph because we ate dinner at the wrong end of the Capitol City Brewery for seeing the television. The salmon was good, but I really miss City Lights, our former favorite reasonable seafood restaurant in the Inner Harbor (Phillips is very overpriced and I don't think their food is that great) -- anyone have suggestions for restaurants within easy walking distance of Harborplace and the museums?

A reenactor just after firing the bow chaser to welcome the sailboat race winner back into the Inner Harbor.

Last time we were aboard, it was the stern chaser being fired for demonstrations, but that is not an option now the ship has been turned since it would be aiming directly at the Tir Na Nog restaurant in Harborplace.

Tacking in front of the Clipper City, this is the victorious sailboat, whose name regrettably I did not catch and which I can't find in The Baltimore Sun which is much more preoccupied with the day's higher-profile Baltimore Marathon.

She's a beauty, though; here she is sailing past Federal Hill.

Here is the Constellation at sunset, facing out into the harbor.

Both kids fell asleep in the car, which means that they were totally hyper once we got home and it was a rather insane evening. Younger son was walking around with a gun-type thing made of Legos that he said was a Dummy Detector, and so far we have all been found to be dummies. Then there were tonight's meaningful animal questions: (1) If you cross a bulldog and a shih tzu, do you get a bullshihtzu? (2) If the feline that played Data's cat wrote an autobiography like Leonard Nimoy did, would it be called I Am Not Spot? So now I am drinking $4 Merlot and watching Tom Baker Doctor Who (with Sarah Jane Smith!)

Huzzah Detroit! And happy birthday vertigo66! Hope you have a wonderful day! Less than two months till I catch up...

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