…and how to irritate his energy in 2023
Is there a proper way to live the life of a poet? In the years since I’ve self-identified as one, I’ve wished to find ways to incorporate the concept of poetry into daily life.
Sometimes, I use a cup of tea to swim around in before I sip. Sometimes, I organize a little funeral for the occasional dead bee. Sometimes, I sit and read the poems of others — sometimes by book, sometimes by screen — and feel the awe and wonder.
Mostly, I rely on my imagination. And, I love to use my imagination to call up poets whose energy is no longer in physical form. Wordsworth is one I call on more often, now that Blake won’t have anything to do with me anymore (although he did like me more when I was studying his work during my college years).
A long time ago, I saw his daffodils and raised him a few points in the zero field. That poem was posted here in the summer of 2016: www.medium.com/@marylholden/to-daffodils-57804269c51f
The other day, considering the prompt “return” for a new poem, I turned to Tinturn Abbey, walked a ways with Wordsworth and wrote lines next to/underneath his.
Here’s what happened:
Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,
On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour.
July 13, 1798 (first stanza)
Lines Composed a Few Spaces proximate Tintern Abbey,
On Revisiting the Poem of the Wordsworth during a Daydream.
November 15, 2023 (first stanza)
By William Wordsworth and Mary L. Holden
Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Five years of math; five numbers’ long
Of five long winters! and again I hear
for more of their kind! and I still see
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
these quantifications, rumbling from counts
With a soft inland murmur. — Once again
by soft accountant mouths. — Multiple ways
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
I feel their peels and cuts, subtracts,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
that take away and take away again
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
the feeling of intimacy; and void
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
heart from territory except for traces amounts.
The day is come when I again repose
The sun is out, out to add,
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
body and life to the brooding willow
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
while armies of apple trees plot
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
a new season, different kitchens,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
bringing red, showing green, stemming brown
‘Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
in bowls, on plates. They ask the cook to witness
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
the sport of their growth, the secret
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
number of seeds within: these packets sweet
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
counting steps, counting feet, doing
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
their quiet computations!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
How many at the table? How many this eve?
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Of alimentary tracts and forks and spoons
Or of some Hermit’s cave, where by his fire
or of some hunger yet to be known
The Hermit sits alone.
The consumer sits pre-prandial.
It didn’t work well. I think Wordsworth is disgusted.
Moral: Don’t do what I did here. Go and imitate the masters who paint.
Let the sleeping master poets lie.