By Delmore Schwartz
Calmly we walk through this April's day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn...)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(...that time is the fire in which we burn.)
(This is the school in which we learn...)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn . . .)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(...that time is the fire in which they burn.)
Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;
Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.
In Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, Mary Karr writes about poets from Syracuse University poets, including Schwartz, "the youngest bard to take the Bollingen Prize." Schwartz "mentored young Lou Reed, whose band (the Velvet Underground) subsequently revolutionized rock," she adds. The poem above is one of my favorites since high school, so I welcomed the excuse to repost it.
We'd been thinking of spending Sunday at a reenactment of a Roman legion at George Mason University, which we figured Daniel would enjoy for his birthday weekend, but rain was in the forecast, so instead we went to the National Zoo where we figured we could easily duck into an indoor exhibit if it started to pour -- which it did a couple of times, but never for more than ten minutes. We went through the Asia Trail, the small mammals, the reptiles, the birds and the under-construction elephant house, where because it was neither very hot nor very cold, we saw lots of animals who seemed more active than they often are. Here, have some small mammals for Rosh Hashanah, which will have started before I post again:
In the Small Mammal House, a meerkat...
...a rock cavy from South America...
...an African rock hyrax or two...
...and a South American degu.
This is a male pale-headed saki. The females are much lighter color all over.
On the Asia Trail, a red panda...
...and a pair of Asian small-clawed otters.
We stopped at The Melting Pot downtown to have a look around, because we're thinking about having Adam's Bar Mitzvah reception there. We'd been thinking about taking the kids out to an expensive dinner there in honor of Daniel's birthday, but Daniel announced that he wanted to go to Cici's Pizza! Since this saved us $100 or so, we agreed, though I won't even bother to mention the quality of the food at the latter. At least they had the Redskins game on, so we got to watch Washington beat Dallas!
The kids wanted to watch the season premiere of The Simpsons when we got home, then I put on The Talented Mr. Ripley, which I'd never seen -- I missed most R-rated movies between 1996 and 2006 due to having small children and I'm still catching up. What a great film, for which I was thankfully unspoiled, and what great performances! In spite of everything I was rooting for Tom until the very end -- Jude Law made it impossible to like anything about Dickie, and Freddie was even worse, and Gwyneth Paltrow is always perfectly cast as a self-absorbed insincere icy bitch. And since Tom is an underdog protagonist (he's the one who makes everything happen in the movie), it's actually FUN to see him get away with it...until it becomes obvious that either Meredith or Peter is going to die, and then things just get horrible because of course Tom is going to keep on killing people to cover up, it's his modus operandi now. Peter is really the only fully likeable character in the film, too, and I feel completely culpable in his death because I was rooting for Tom!
There are two articles in the Sunday Washington Post to which I want to link: one for political reasons on what will happen if Roe v. Wade is overturned, one for personal reasons because the rabbi in this article on spiritual searching in D.C. officiated at Daniel's Bar Mitzvah (and if I'd known he was so unhappy at the synagogue, I probably would have been friendlier with him). And on that note, as I prepare myself for my least favorite holidays of the Jewish year...Happy New Year!