Intimations of Immortality in ‘Ode to a Nightingale’

Keats poem, Ode to a Nightingale, is about the longing for a mystic past. The portal to this past time is the song of a nightingale at night in the forest. Keats hears the bird and hears a whole world through its song. How do the poetic elements reveal this mystic longing?

There is no special significance in the fact that there are eighty lines and eight stanzas. The rhyme scheme, also, is not symbolic. What we can say, generally, about the poem is that it has a song-like quality to it and that each stanza, like a healthy prose paragraph, has its own purpose. Many stanzas have some rhyme interwoven through them. Take stanza IV, where ‘moon’ and ‘glooms’ together rhyme, although they are internal and four lines apart. Or, in stanza VII, there is ‘born’, ‘corn’, and ‘forlorn’. This internal rhyming sews up each stanza nicely. The progression of the poem is not just pulled along with rhyme. Keats uses a lot of assonance, the repetition of syllables within a line. It is quite clear in lines 25 (‘sad’ and ‘last’) and 41 (‘I cannot see what flowers are at my feet’), but also appears more subtly in lines 35 (‘Already with thee! Tender is the night’) and 72 (‘To toll me back from thee to my sole self’). We get some kind of more protracted assonance in stanza I with ‘numbness’, ‘numberless’, and ‘summer’. Keats also uses a bit of alliteration, but never quite goes beyond a two-word usage of it: ‘fade far’ (21), ‘mid-May’s’ (48), and ’sole self’ (72). From stanza to stanza, ideas seem to echo and return like the reverberations, perhaps, of the nightingale’s song—fade far comes back in 47 as fast fading and in 75 as plaintive anthem fades, but we first got the idea of fading in line 20.

Keats wants to fade away with the bird. Then he tells the bird to fade away. Next, we find that the violets are fast fading. Finally, the song of the bird fades back into the forest. This is the entire storyline of the poem. Keats wants to go away with the bird, because his world is one where violets—beauty—fades away. He is like the violets and he, too, will fade. The bird then leaves, but Keats is left high and dry. We find that Keats cannot go with the bird, because if he did, he would not have heard its song fade into the distance. The next thing we can expect, after the poem, is that Keats himself will fade. But the bird? The bird itself never fades. The bird was not born for death (61). Keats was (26). He wants to go where beauty might keep her lustrous eyes (29), but he cannot. This inability to go where the bird hails from fills him with a peculiarly mystic longing.

Keats longs for ‘a draught of vintage’, a metaphor comparing the memory of summer to a rich wine. We see this later in the stanza with the image of a ‘purple-stained mouth.’ The bird sings of summer ‘in full-throated ease’ (10) and it is this song that fills Keats with the craving of summer. This is not just a memory of summer, though, which is a mundane desire everyone has in the heart of winter. It is much, much more. This memory has been ‘cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth’ (12) and so it is an old, perhaps ancient, memory. In lines 2-8, he expands the idea of summer as an entire country (13), not only where people dwell and dance (14), but where Hippocrene is (16). Hippocrene is a pool that the Muses drank from and it filled them with the inspiration to imagine. At this point, Keats is saying that the bird’s song has filled him with a longing for poetic imagination. We at first thought it was just a longing for summer, because of a pretty song. And here, at the end of line 8, we find that the entire second stanza is set up in premise-conclusion form. The poem’s form lends itself well to this.

There are ten lines in each of the eight stanzas, broken into three clumps. The first two clumps are of four lines and then there is a final, two line ending. In stanza II, the first two sections begin with parallel summaries of the next three lines, respectively: ‘O, for a draught of vintage…O for a beaker full of warm South.’ The second summary is an expansion of the meaning in the first line. It is not a drink of old memory, but a pitcher of warmth. If the second section is building on the first, what is the necessary poetic conclusion? It is that Keats ‘might drink, and leave the world unseen’ (19). This only makes sense. Everything in stanza II is unseen and only the song of the bird has inspired Keats to produce it. But Keats has not seen ‘the country green’ or ‘beaded bubbles winking at the brim.’ The unseen world can be no other world than the world he has made with his poetry. And this world goes far beyond Keats. It is a world that comes upon him with the song of the bird. What else should Keats conclude, but that his poetry has accessed something beyond himself? He did not make his own heart ache. The bird did. Like Daedalus giving the idea of flight to Icarus, Keats only attempts poetic imagination because of the nightingale’s song. Like Daedalus and Icarus, Keats tries flying with the bird, but cannot sustain his flight of poetry. The bird flies on towards a new world—and Keats, having flown too high for a mortal, falls.

Throughout history, there have been mystics obsessed with birds for this very reason. Mystics consider the bird as the perfect symbol of longing for an unseen world. Why? Because birds are from the world above and they come singing a beautiful and unintelligible language. It is that language that grants us intimations of immortality–provides us with glimpses of the divine. We cannot, however, maintain the moment of beauty. It flies and fades past us and we try to capture it, like Keats, ‘on the viewless wings of Poesy’ (33). We are filled with dissatisfaction, because it leaves us. The mystics are the ones who find themselves beset with a longing to hold beauty eternally. Mystics long for death—for mystics believe that this reality is a dream, a shade of the immortal beauty beyond.

We find all these elements in Keat’s poem Ode to a Nightingale. There is a bird, a ‘light-winged Dryad of the trees’ (7) and its beauty causes his heart to ache. His heart aches, because the bird teaches him of a world beyond his own, for ‘thou wast not made for death, immortal bird!’ He wants then to die, ‘I have been half in love with easeful Death.’ This encounter is fleeting and his mind cannot grasp the full meaning of the encounter. Keats is experiencing a moment of mystic longing…with one key difference. Instead of the bird being a messenger of the divine heavens, it is a symbol of the undying beauty in nature. This is the longing to reach beyond death and become immortal. ‘O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth’ (11-12). In the end, like a good mystic, Keats questions whether his entire life is the dream and whether by dying he might wake up into immortality.

The answer is yes.

Prose for the Uninspired

I.     

             .

I come to sit down next to you and talk to you, a few hours

at a time. I see myself in you a lot of the time. I remember 

five years ago—was it really half a decade ago?

we would talk every day and it was sweet. These days, 

I fight for that kind of ease. Now neither of us want to admit

that neither of us understand what’s happened. But I don’t care if I can’t cut through this dark muck we’re sinking in;

and I cannot name our enemy. 

I fight for you every day and still I find you slipping away. 

             .

II. 

             .

I remember so much with you…

sometimes I forget to remember—wait, ta-take me back there for a sec! 

I love being with you. I thought you were just my own invention, but what has grown

under the surface has revealed itself as romantic love, a wooden room of termites stuck in my chest—

I’ve worked hard at digging down to those roots…

O, I love you, truly. O, I love you, deeply. 

And if this comes off as a sappy love poem, 

you of all creatures know that I speak to you—and to you only do I speak.

Yes, you understand to what I am referring. I am referring to the curves of your memory, mmm, 

the loose curves of your speech and the bubbling up of your proud, high elegant language 

when an idea weighs heavily on your stomach like large, black Hester…

your back is tall, erect like an alarmed cat (you see the great size and prominence of the ideas inside your head);

I try telling you that you really can make the ideas clear (like a kid first learning how to ride his bike without training wheels);

.

in your awkward, clumsy high language you tell me something that blew you away and you try telling me the idea

in the same way it overwhelmed you

.

and the most important thing I forget, ah the key, is that ideas are gifts and things we are given and you taught me that and if I forget 

everything dies and I want to know that this is all a gift down in my covered thighs. 

.

Ideas sometimes break into our house. I will see an idea creeping across our floor in the golden light of 7:00AM down our hallway

into the kitchen as I am coming down the stairs for the first time that morning

in my underwear, and I know the idea is sneaking up on you standing alone

in the kitchen soaking in the warmth of your deep, lovely routine inspiration. You are

in the kitchen making breakfast for me. 

O, I love you, truly. O, I love you, deeply. 

Visiana! we have talked many times about why you make breakfast

for me. And when we were first married, 

I was worried you did it out of some strange misogynistic 

.

pressure. I wanted to make sure you understood that I did not expect you to make breakfast for me just because I am the man

and you are the not-man, but you told me, “Honey, I make breakfast for you because you are bad at waking up early.

You will never make me breakfast. 

If left to your conspirings, you’d wake up at eleven.” 

That is one of the reasons I love you, deeply, 

For it is not that you know everything about me or that I know everything about you,

but that we have known each other for so long and seen so much of one another, 

so I love you because you are familiar and we share an understanding: 

when I told you about my misogynistic worry, I knew you would make fun of me 

and when you made fun of me, you knew I would laugh at myself:

we are the same and you                 I…

                    Is this still a mystery for me?

.

III. 

.

I think of the people with whom I have this understanding. 

I think of my family. 

I think of my older sister, Anna. 

We have this understanding. 

But when I think of Anna, I am afraid to admit 

how she strikes me as a stranger. I am afraid saying

so will hurt her. But I feel like all six of my siblings

are strangers. I am bad at birthdays like I’m bad at breakfast…

At least I know that all of my older siblings are lost

somewhere in their twenties and my little sister is canoeing

down that well-travelled river

of fourteen. There have been so few opportunities to sit

down and speak plainly with these odd

people. Much of my life is unrevealed

and much of their life is unrevealed

to me. Both they and I must deal with the truth

that we are distant brothers and sisters and we get few chances

                                                                   to be near friends. Where are the coves

wherein my set of memories 

overlap with their memories? 

I have memories of when I was four at the Sugar Grove house—

Anna must have been a teenager then (what was she going through?)

She was a fixture in my life and now Anna at that age 

when I was four is a fixture in my imagination, 

our memory. And then I wonder, “Who was she? 

And what happened then that caused her to be who she is now?” 

I think about this a lot. 

.

.

I called my little sister, Grace, on the phone

the other day. I asked her about

memories she had at the St. Charles house. She had this image

of Dad riding the mower past the window wells 

.

as we sat in the cold, concrete basement watching television together. She couldn’t have been more than eight years old. 

We talked about how boring the summer days were there, but how nice the light, cool basement felt. We wondered

why we never went outside. She said it was because it was always so hot. It’s true. 

We remember that, how hot it was. 

.

Grace also remembers a time when I took her to the end of our driveway

and into the cul-de-sac one Fall day. She was wearing her pink puffy coat. She couldn’t have been more than seven years old. 

We were raking up all the leaves into a pile 

so she could jump into it. She described it as our attempt to be a picturesque

.

family on the cover of a magazine. Well the leaves were wet 

and anyway there weren’t enough of ’em—and she remembers jumping

into the pile and falling right on her butt! And she says it was sad, because her coat got stained dirty!

Grace, I’m sorry. 

.

You also remember a time when I tried running away from home. 

Our friends the Cannons were leaving after a long visit and I decided to hide

in their car so they could take me with them to Indiana. Illinois to Indiana

(what a ride!)—and you remember me putting a quarter into your Hello Kitty

.

pack on the front of your pink bike. I told you “don’t ask, don’t tell” and said shh. You couldn’t have been more than six years old.

I remember you at that age, 

You mystery.

.

IV. 

.

You see, I have had a lot of troubles with my memories. I’ve decided I want to enjoy my memories like wine:

if I drink too much from the same well, I can become disoriented

and get a headache. It is a deep well of crimson

milk. It messes me up, head plunged. 

.

Why don’t I ever just say thank you and quit? 

.

My little sister Grace said that she doesn’t understand why people worry about forgetting

themselves since we always take who we are with us (her hands on the sides of the rocking canoe)

What shores have we seen? Once the present passes into my memory

and it is there in my head, I can use my imagination

and turn it around in my hand like a stone. Now, the sand sifts

through my fingers and from there it goes into the ground

and becomes a shiny stone, each moment like

a shiny thing on a pebble beach, turning the stone.

This memory brought me here…it moved me here and compelled me.

O, I thought I have only ever been bending my back

in this field, but ah, now I know I am being blown back, pushed forward 

once more once again once. 

.

V. 

.

Addressing my class next year at graduation, 

I get up from my chair and go to the podium, 

hands shaking:

“A little over a year ago, I almost dropped out of college. I had the degree change form in my hand and walked around the college

collecting signatures. I got every signature, made it past every gate necessary, except one. You would think this was intentional.

It was not. I didn’t get the last signature, because I forgot to get it. So I left that half-completed form in my pidge box for two weeks,

forgetting forgetting. And then I was sitting in class and for some reason I got the thought in my head to tell God, ‘Father if you want

me to do something, I will do it. I’m willing to do what you want me to do.’ I was convinced he wanted me to drop out

or that at least he would use it in my life. But then I got a cold sweat. I was wrong.

God wanted me to stay. I should have known; everyone in my life told me it was a bad idea. 

The point of this story is that when we ask God for something good, he can and might say no. And he might say not yet. 

Adam and Eve were rightly drawn to that tree in the garden, but it was not their time to eat from it. 

They had to first go through a season of refinement so that they could understand the sweet taste of that fruit in its season. 

The tree was the gift of a later season once they could finally comprehend the gifted potency in their entire being. 

But grasping for the fruit too soon, they were trying to gain the gift by their own effort. 

And that is what I have tried doing time and time again in my life;

grasping for something good only for God to tell me, ‘If you want the gift, you must first learn to love the depth of my riches.’”

.

VI. 

.

I have a good friend. 

We talk a lot about friends. 

She has trouble writing about friends. 

She once had this idea of keeping a daily journal

of what her and her friends did so that years from now 

                                              she could get a snapshot of her sweet, older life. 

This idea is similar to my idea of writing a book of vignettes

about things my friends and I have done. 

I would do it so that we could remember. 

I would have really put the work in so we could all remember. 

But, I have forgotten so much that I am left with the faint impression me and my friends have been with each other for eternity. 

Then why does friendship die so easily? 

This is the kind of loneliness that feels like someone is sprinkling salt

                                                                                         onto my heart. 

.

VII. 

.

I have been dead

for an entire year. I tried growing

too many things in my garden (I am really bad at gardening)

One day, I found that all of my crops

had died and I wondered what I could do to fix the problem. 

.

My first solution was to plant all of the same kinds of crops 

again. I planted more than before. I figured that if I tried growing 

a lot of crops then there was a better chance that something would grow 

even if I had to live with a lot of death. 

After months of eager expectation, nothing grew out of the ground. 

.

Why was nothing growing? I have not found an answer 

to this question yet. I don’t believe I will ever find 

an answer. I am still in this dark, incoherent

whoreland. I look forward to a time when this year in college 

will be a pebble on the beach at which I can laugh and turn around in my hand. 

.

What was I thinking? 

Maybe I will never know. Because after many failed 

attempts at growing my garden again, I chose to give up. I can do nothing. I can grow nothing. 

My mind is a barren womb and my love is empty and vain. 

There is nothing I can do, because there is nothing I can understand. 

.

This entire affair makes no sense to me, because for so many years I thought we had an understanding—but you are just a stranger 

to me now and those works of brilliance that kept us so close have gone down with the river never to be held again.

What visions have we left behind? You are a stranger and it is time

I admit it to us both.

Muse of Creative Inspiration, I do not understand you. Can we please get to know one another again? Let’s go out and sit

in the garden together and watch whatever wants to grow, grow.

.

VIII. 

.

Life is brittle and I feel like it could break 

at any moment, but when we both stay in bed 

in the morning at this hotel celebrating 

our 17th anniversary and the kids are safe 

with the babysitter, I forget how brittle 

I am when I reach my hand across your chest 

and put my fingers gently curled next to your warm neck, 

my hand sweating under a lock of your hair fallen 

over your neck. That pleasure of warmth makes me forget

—and I want to know. What is this calm pleasure 

designed to teach me? To be near you like this and love you and not let it lead anywhere, but to stay here next to you laying

quietly down…

I want to ask and never stop asking 

(my leg crossed over your legs (my crotch next to your hip (the skin of my arm sticking to your chest (under the comforter)))) 

and the sun shining through the window, both of us overheating, 

sweaty, damp, uncomfortable, your oily hair and the smell of my armpits, 

I want to ask over and over why this is so good, how your foreign life 

has anything to do at all with the mystery the world set apart from both of us and how it is being revealed right now in our rest. 

.

IX. 

.

My life is a garden. 

I get to wait for rain, not plant water drops. 

.

I have busied myself—and with what? And I have tried thinking—about what? And I have tried being intelligent—knowing what? 

And I have tried being creative—making what? And I have tried keeping the bigger picture—who took it? And I have tried grasping

for more—what of it? And I have tried being twenty years older—in seven months? And I have mourned at the loss—of what?

And I have apologized too much—I’m sorry! And I have not understood the ground—the weeds! And it has not rained

in a long time—rain, sometimes! And my life is infertile—grow something! And I need help—help me! And I need to know

how to ask for help—let me help! And I can give you—nothing! I have ignored you—for too long.

Grow something I can laugh at. I’m watching, waiting here with you. 

Quote 6: H.D.

“Helen”
All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre as of olives
where she stands,
and the white hands.
All Greece reviles
the wan face when she smiles,
hating it deeper still
when it grows wan and white,
remembering past enchantments
and past ills.
Greece sees unmoved,
God’s daughter, born of love,
the beauty of cool feet
and slenderest knees,
could love indeed the maid,
only if she were laid,
white ash amid funereal cypresses.
Note: Laid in intercourse or on a funeral pyre? Just wondering; I don’t know much about the poet, but looking briefly over her biography, she strikes me as one of those “strong women” of the early 20th century. Kind of like Gertrude Stein. I’d like to get to know her better, though–through wikipedia. By the way, I had the line breaks in the edited post, but they don’t show up here for some reason. There is a line break after “and the white hands.” and “and past ills.” Just so you know.

What Did Dad Fill Them With?

Samuel slept in Dad’s green lawn chair,

while fragments of light in the mason jars

on the fence flickered with the moving shade of the trees

like anxious lanterns at night. He put them in his will,

not the dress shirt draped over Sam like a blanket,

when a cloud put its hand over

Dad’s backyard, the pale empty jars,

and a framed picture in the grass of Dad

smiling, two ballpoint pens in his pocket protector,

sitting on the edge of his university desk, hands clasped,

as if waiting for the cool breeze that a silent cloud

sometimes brings.

Quote 4: Ted Kooser

“The Industrial Revolution did not reach imaginative writing until recently, and today black clouds of soot belch from the smokestacks over the creative writing schools. Poems get manufactured and piled on the loading docks where many of them rot for lack of transport. Wouldn’t we all be better off if there wasn’t such an emphasis on productivity?

“At a party, I once heard a woman say that it was “criminal” that Harper Lee had written only the one novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. What peculiar expectations we’ve developed for our writers! “Criminal?” We ought to be thankful Lee used her time to write her book as perfectly as she could, that she didn’t rush a lot of half-finished books into print.

“So just relax. There’s plenty of time to do your writing well and, if you’re lucky, to make a poem or two that might make a difference.”

-Ted Kooser, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, pg. 148

Note: This is only a small bit of the good in this book.

Quote 3: George Moses Horton

“George Moses Horton, Myself”
I feel myself in need
   Of the inspiring strains of ancient lore,
My heart to lift, my empty mind to feed,
   And all the world explore.

 

I know that I am old
   And never can recover what is past,
But for the future may some light unfold
   And soar from ages blast.

 

I feel resolved to try,
   My wish to prove, my calling to pursue,
Or mount up from the earth into the sky,
   To show what Heaven can do.

 

My genius from a boy,
   Has fluttered like a bird within my heart;
But could not thus confined her powers employ,
   Impatient to depart.

 

She like a restless bird,
   Would spread her wing, her power to be unfurl’d,
And let her songs be loudly heard,
   And dart from world to world.

Caleb and Hester, 1996

She would come to the back door

when we ate dinner and rub her bloody

sores on the glass, sick in old age. Chipmunks

used to lay dead near her full bowl

with their necks splayed and I inside proud

that we shared a birthyear.

 

I once put on a surgical glove to dig

my fingers into her caked black fur

and laid a towel across my lap

so the huntress could rest, but that last day

when she shook outside in the rain,

I watched our shared lives passing

without a touch from the family

room window.

………….

When we put the kids to bed, you crawled into bed beside me and your cold toes hit my ankles.

I didn’t know what you were planning or what I was up for, but it was late. And if you wanted to do something, then I would. Fine. I am always ready.

I felt your breath and one hanging strand of your hair tickle my cheek. You were leaning over me, as I imagined with my eyes closed, like a tiger making sure the deer was asleep. Do tigers eat deer, I thought?

I thought of you as a huntress – Daphne, maybe – looking for the perfect place to plant a kiss, at an unsuspecting faker. A faker of sleep, like James when I unbuckled his seat-belt and brought his limp body up the stairs to bed, a fallen hero to a funeral pyre. He nearly conquered the night, but the enemy of Missing-Something stabbed him.

We both knew I was awake. Just ten minutes ago, I was brushing my teeth in the blinding bathroom, wearing my t-shirt and boxers.

It was a long day and I listened to a song in the car that reminded me of high school. It was a Peter Gabriel song, one that I recall shifting the entire frame of reality. One that I recall bursting the hollow imitation of innocence.

But now, when I hear it, the earth remains spherical and there is no way for me to make it flat. My frame is set and it was set with that song. Now, that song merely marks the beginning of now. Then, it marked that end of now. The Needle of Now vibrates in small motions over North and it would be unwise for me to go South. Even if I could find my way back. The sun is going down.

And now it is down and you are over me like a tiger or Daphne, moving forward but afraid of breaking a twig. I opened the window before I went to bed. It is one of those nights when you say to yourself, It is one of those nights, one where the window should be left open. The crickets sang their song of Taking a Nap With Mom.

When I was five and my dad was out of town, my mother brought me up to her bedroom and laid me down for a nap. We said little to each other, although I had little intention of taking a long nap and could have said, “But Mom, I’m not tired.”

Earlier that day, she took the bed-sheets, the heavy cool white quilt and the thin smooth toga, off the clothesline after I ran through them, worried that someone was behind the sheets, ready to catch me.

We took the nap as the sun was setting and, closing my eyes, learned the most profound lesson in my life; naps are very good. She was there with me, her arm around me, and I knew I would not be killed.

Not two minutes later, I opened my eyes and it was dark. Thousands of crickets screamed like someone had lit matches and seared their butts.

Mom was gone.

At first, I was confused. But confusion turned into fear and fear turned into anger. She left me! She left me! And who was going to protect me from the face of the disembodied Larry, peering through the old farmhouse window? The window was open, the crickets cried fowl, and Larry knew that Mom was downstairs drinking coffee and talking to Dad. It was supposed to be her nap, not mine!

In my ear, my wife whispered, “Want to go on an adventure?”

So much for a kiss. But, like I said, I was ready for anything. Always ready.

I smiled half of my face, the half in the pillow. “Oh, but I’m so tired.”

It was true that I was tired, but I could go either way. I would have been happy if she said, “Okay, let’s go to bed then.” But she convinced me, with three simple words. “A big adventure.”

I jumped out of bed as if my arm had not fallen asleep under the summer-knighted pillow. I stretched and yawned, pulling on my jeans from the floor like a fallen shade.

We said little to each other, but I got the keys from the wooden bowl on the counter, looked at her stillness in the kitchen under the oppressive ceiling light, and opened the door to the garage.

We got in the car and closed the doors, feeling as if we were in the loading bay of an enemy warship. At least, that is how I felt. I imagined we were leaving something dangerous. We were; dreaming children. Nothing is more dangerous.

“The kids will be okay.” She said to me.

I did not believe her, but for the sake of adventure, I nodded my head.

We drove for thirty minutes, but it was not silent. The moon spoke so loudly, every cloud moved out of the way. It spoke with a clear and defiant voice. “I am the Moon your god, who brought you out of your house and into the house of my light.” He was welcoming, but I did not know what to say to him. Thank you, maybe?

We went to the beach, the tired waves crashing, half-asleep.

We went to the water, leaving two piles of clothes on the beach.

We went to the sea bottom, leaving the surface sparkling like my son’s blue eyes under the oppressive ceiling lights in our kitchen. We played in the coral reef for hours, worried we might find an eel around the corner ready to snap at us.

But there was no other creature there, only us and the silent waving seaweed holding onto the stone for dear life.

We held on to each other and the invisible tide could not snatch us. We sat on the top of the coral and in the distance of that hushed world, witnessed the slow descent of half a ship.

It was half a sailboat. The tangled mast billowed in the wind of the sunken waves. The wheel faced us vertically standing on the deck, waving at us with its eight arms, saying mechanically, “Thanks for stopping by!” And to the next person in line asking, “Insert five coins, please.”

When the shell of wood struck the seafloor, a cloud of sand covered the entire empty spectacle, distant and dead like a deserted fairground in Kansas. If the knees of a towering ferris wheel give out, does anyone hear its pained fall?

I sighed – relieved – and leaned over to kiss my wife as if we just witnessed the Grand Finale of a fireworks show.

Up on the cliff, above the ocean and the small hills of clothes, a boy of fourteen finishes his trumpet solo for the Sinking of the Spirit Past. I have a thought to throw five coins into his trumpet case or to rub his hair, but he doesn’t need it. His solo is payment enough, under the moon that demands worship and above the married couple delighting in the passing of time.

Well done, kid. You have learned the second most profound lesson in my life; growing up is not done by escaping feeling, but by feeling the right things.

We feel cold toes and we don’t move our legs away.

We feel full and we play trumpet solos for an ocean, half-asleep.

Week by Week 2

This Week: A discussion between Carson S, David H, and Caleb W. We talk about Billy Collins, Beowulf, T.S. Elliot, J.R.R. Tolkien, Keats “Ode to a Nightingale”, C.S. Lewis, Picasso, Job, sub-creation, darkness and light, the point of creation, the need for honesty, self-publishing, rap, the eschatology of art and in what it finds its purpose in, whether prayer is an art (the Valley of Vision), the importance of having something valuable to say in an age of aspiration and self-promotion, meaning and how a poem conveys it, reading poetry out-loud, reading poetry fast, eye-rhymes, and all various postmodern mouth-dribbles.