Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Other Other Country

I wrote you a brief but rather dull letter. ~T. S. Eliot

The days bled alabaster,
the nothing of sky over Paradise,
where the original sin was weather.
Did they miss the wildness
of the palms, the angels
who brought breakfast on tea trays?
Each dawn would be a palimpsest
of storms almost forgotten,
humiliation, love.

by William Logan


Marcheline said...

I'd forgotten the word "palimpsest" - thank you for bringing it back to me.

Katherine C. James said...

Oh, Bumble, I loved waking up to read this William Logan poem, and then to spend an hour thinking about you and it, about Logan who, because of the harshness of his criticism, "The Hudson Review once called…'the most hated man in American poetry'; he was so flattered, he began using it as a cover blurb.", my beloved T. S. Eliot, Eliot's Portrait of a Lady with its Jew of Malta epigraph that includes, "but that was in another country, And besides, the wench is dead," and Logan's epigraph that refers to the literal line of a letter Eliot wrote to his cousin Eleanor, Eliot's Jew of Malta epigraph, and to the woman in The Portrait of a Lady, who wistfully says to the shallow narrator of the poem, " "Perhaps you can write to me."…You will write, at any rate./Perhaps it is not too late."

Logan spends time in Cambridge and in Florida. He's like you, with your Chiltern and LA contrasts, though in mentioning angels he seems to be speaking of you and your move. The lines "Did they miss the wildness/of the palms, the angels/who brought breakfast on tea trays?" are extraordinary in their reference to your circumstances. Before them we, I think, are in England, during them we are in LA, until the last two words, "tea tray" return us again to England.

This Logan poem is new to me, and not yet fully accessible. Maybe I am misinterpreting it. (I hope Logan does not find out, I can imagine him being unkind about that.:)) But the receiving of a Miss Whistle blog post, then finding a poem, and then finding so much pleasure in the layers of the poem's meanings and references were all lovely for me on day I'm in bed with a rather bad cold or flu or cold.

Thinking of you in Chiltern. Thank you for the beautiful photographs you are providing, and thank you for continuing to share poetry.