spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
when the world is puddle-wonderful
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
(e. e. cummings)
(Loviisa, Finland; April 2019)
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
(Silkeborg, Denmark; February 2019)
I am working from the cottage this week, surrounded by snow. There is no wi-fi but the invention of an iPhone hotspot can do wonders for work-life balance if one lets it. Everything but video conferencing works, and who needs video conferencing anyway when snuggling up behind the laptop in woollen socks and a thick homely sweater? Output quality trumps appearance and sense of style in my job.
And just because I feel like it: here is a repost of the wonderful poem “January” by John Updike.
The days are short,
The sun a spark,
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
Fat snowy footsteps
Track the floor.
Milk bottles burst
Outside the door.
The river is
A frozen place
Held still beneath
The trees of lace.
The sky is low.
The wind is gray.
Purrs all day.
(Loviisa, Finland; January 2019)
They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.
(Loviisa, Finland; August 2018)
As I listened from a beach-chair in the shade
To all the noises that my garden made,
It seemed to me only proper that words
Should be withheld from vegetables and birds.
A robin with no Christian name ran through
The Robin-Anthem which was all it knew,
And rustling flowers for some third party waited
To say which pairs, if any, should get mated.
Not one of them was capable of lying,
There was not one which knew that it was dying
Or could have with a rhythm or a rhyme
Assumed responsibility for time.
Let them leave language to their lonely betters
Who count some days and long for certain letters;
We, too, make noises when we laugh or weep:
Words are for those with promises to keep.
(W. H. Auden)
(Loviisa, Finland; June 2018)
Rewinding back to a moment under the Nordic spring sun. The wonderful Finnish poet Edith Södergran loved cats, too, and wrote:
Of all our sunny world
I wish only for a garden sofa
where a cat is sunning itself.
There I should sit
with a letter at my breast,
a single small letter.
That is what my dream looks like.
(Helsinki, Finland; May 2018)
Faint smell of fish nets
Instead of emails and calls
I will have some tea
Work? Who needs it on a Thursday when one can have tea on the French Riviera?
(Villefranche-sur-Mer, France; April 2018)
spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
and fro moving New and
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and
without breaking anything.
(e. e. cummings)
(Helsinki, Finland; April 2017)
When I said I was going to Paris, my friend stated that we were probably the one ones going to France without going to see the soccer Euro Cup. We don’t follow soccer, so how could we have known about it? Perhaps we live in another culture bubble, one that does not engage with soccer? Blissfully ignorant, we booked our tickets in March, for 10 days in France. I was certain that we would end up in the middle of at least an attempt of terrorism. But we did not. We left 2 days before a crazy person drove a rented truck through a crowd in Nice. Yet another relatively tight call. One of many for me.
But Paris is always Paris. And this time with some American flair at the Centre Pompidou. Wandering among so many private photos and film clips of the famous Beat bunch, I could not help but wonder how Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, et al. were both so lost and so focused at the same time. “On the road” is a book about being aimless and lost, but yet Kerouac sat down, started typing on a paper scroll, and kept typing on the same scroll until his story was finished. “On the road” is 37 meters long.
Oh, how very serious the Beat people must have been. Just aimlessness, lostness, unemployment, boheme poverty, and so much angst. Except for Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who decided to open a bookstore in San Francisco and call it City Lights Books. No, Ferlinghetti was less lost, and he laughed at life. He also laughed at the painter Marc Chagall, who for some reason always painted violins. So he wrote a poem about it. Something definitely not Beat or Lost. I read it at the Pompidou and laughed, too. And I wondered why Ferlinghetti decided to write about the horse eating the violin instead of the lady on the horse with her beau, wearing an evening dress that ended right underneath her naked breasts.
Don’t let that horse
eat that violin
cried Chagall’s mother
kept right on
And became famous
And kept on painting
The Horse With Violin In Mouth
And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
and rode away
waving the violin
And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across
And there were no strings
(Paris, France; July 2016)
I need the sea because it teaches me,
I don’t know if I learn music or awareness,
if it’s a single wave or its vast existence,
or only its harsh voice or its shining
suggestion of fishes and ships.
The fact is that until I fall asleep,
in some magnetic way I move in
the university of the waves.
(Helsinki, Finland; April 2016)