Collaborative Close Readings
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
. . .
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
Rich’s poem and the book that contains it are like lost friends, nearly forgotten. I was stunned to come back to the poem now and read the words I quote, which immediately called to mind these words from An Ordinary Evening in New Haven by Wallace Stevens:
The poem is the cry of its occasion,
Part of the res itself and not about it.
The poet speaks the poem as it is,
Not as it was: part of the reverberation
Of a windy night as it is, when the marble statues
Are like newspapers blown by the wind. He speaks
By sight and insight as they are. There is no
Tomorrow for him. The wind will have passed by,
The statues will have gone back to be things about.
The mobile and the immobile flickering
In the area between is and was are leaves,
Leaves burnished in autumnal burnished trees
And leaves in whirlings in the gutters, whirlings
Around and away, resembling the presence of thought,
Resembling the presences of thoughts, as if,
In the end, in the whole psychology, the self,
The town, the weather, in a casual litter,
Together, said words of the world are the life of the world.
This does not qualify as anything like a close reading, of course, but I’ll posit this: she dives, he whirls in the wind. For both, “the poem is the cry of its occasion,” and “words of the world are the life of the world.”
Listening List: Elgar’s Where Corals Lie, from Sea Pictures